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East Coast Rail Link of Malaysia
The new railway that will connect the Straits of Malacca to the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia
Greetings from Saigon and another edition of Living In Asia. I continue profiling the big railway projects of Southeast Asia, and this week’s new railway is the largest by length that is currently under construction.
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The East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) is a 640 km long railway under construction in Peninsula Malaysia. This standard gauge double-track railway will connect Port Klang to Kota Bharu.
Peninsula Malaysia is putting together a formidable railway network that includes the KL-Singapore high-speed railway, double-tracking the current West Coast service, and now this new East Coast line. (Meanwhile Borneo Malaysia is still waiting for any big ticket railway project to be approved.)
Like the high-speed railway, the ECRL was cancelled after the 2018 election while the costs were investigated. The project was tainted by the 1MDB scandal, so it was right to put it on hold. The project was renegotiated with a new route at a lower cost.
I haven’t made a station map yet as the final alignment has changed again. In the meantime the section that is confirmed is at least under construction.
On the positive side it’s going to open up the state capitals of the east coast, which gets a fraction of the visitors compared to the west. It will also make the cities more appealing to live in, slowing down domestic migration to KL.
Another benefit is that it will provide a railway connection to the Jungle Railway. As my trip report shows, it’s a difficult trip to do efficiently from Kuala Lumpur. In the future it will be posible to make the trip from KL by rail, opening up the middle of the peninsula to new tourism opportunites.
The downside is that Malaysia’s current railway network is on a metre-gauge, so there can be no direct train to Kuala Lumpur or Johor Bahru (for Singapore). It’s not a big problem if the trains are frequent and timed at junction stations, but it’s too bad that the current West Coast line wasn’t rebuilt as a standard gauge.
The line is scheduled to be completed by 2026, so let’s hope it’s on time and I get to do a trip report.
“Poor planning in rush to develop worsens damage from climate change.”
“The COVID-19 pandemic has added to existing challenges when it comes to timely completion of a key Indian connectivity initiative.”
“Indonesia’s capital city Jakarta has come out as the winner of the global 2021 Sustainable Transport Award (STA) for its ambitious integrated public transportation programs.”
“The need to decentralize the nation’s capital has become more important than ever, with government agencies, businesses and the population being concentrated in Tokyo beyond a healthy level.”
“The Works Ministry hopes that the construction industry will continue to receive attention in Budget 2021 and be the core of the government’s efforts to restore the country’s economy in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic.”
I stand by my claim that Kuala Lumpur has the best skyline in Southeast Asia (click for the video).
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“After booting the old Mahakan Fort community out of their homes in 2018, and turning the area into a park intended for tourists, the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) recently, for the first time, tacitly admitted to its mistake.”
Koh Samui is served by a private airport owned by Bangkok Airways. Landing fees are more expensive here, thus most low cost airline don’t use it. There have been talks of a second airport, and a bridge to the mainland to get around this.
“South Korea has set up a smart city cooperation centre in Bangkok to support Korean firms seeking to invest in smart city projects in Thailand.”
“Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc on October 28 stressed the need for the railway system to be upgraded in order to serve national development.”