KUALA LUMPUR (April 17): Malaysia Rail Link Sdn Bhd (MRL) clarified today that a proposed joint operations agreement between the company and China Communications Construction Company Ltd (CCCC) does not involve ceding any form of ownership of the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) to its Chinese counterpart.
MRL said the joint operation arrangement is purely the sharing of management, operation and maintenance (MOM) costs plus the exchange of technical know-how and expertise between the two companies.
"The Government of Malaysia will own 100% of all ECRL assets through MRL, from the beginning to the end of the joint MOM arrangement," it said, adding that the 50:50 joint-venture company between MRL and CCCC will not pose any threat to national security as the JV company will be under the management of Malaysia.
In a statement today, MRL cleared up certain misleading information related to the improved ECRL project that was announced last week by the Federal Government.
Besides the issue of ownership, MRL clarified that the travel time from Kota Bharu to Kuala Lumpur via the new southern alignment will be approximately four hours.
It explained that the distance from Kota Bharu to Putrajaya Sentral under the new southern alignment is 550km covering 17 stations compared with the distance from Kota Bharu to Gombak under the previous alignment at 525km covering 18 stations.
"With a travel speed of 160km per hour, the additional 25km adds a time of less than 10 minutes to the journey, which will be further reduced due to the reduction of one stop.”
MRL also clarified that the reduction in cost from RM65.5 billion to RM44 billion was not solely due to the four stations being omitted, but includes other cost saving measures as well.
Even with the scrapping of the purported "RM10 billion tunnel” (Genting Tunnel) through the Titiwangsa range, MRL said the cost would still only be reduced to RM55.5 billion.
In a separate statement, Minister of Economic Affairs Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali said the revised plan for the ECRL project has taken into account the suggestion by the Selangor State Government to disallow the alignment to pass through Permatang Kuartza, Gombak which has been listed on the UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List.
Hence, the revised plan has removed the construction of an 18-kilometre tunnel through the "pure quartz dyke" to protect cultural heritage and environmental factors, he said. Azmin also noted that the State Government took notice of the complaints lodged by the locals as the old alignment plan will pass through forest reserves at the borders of Selangor and Pahang, villages, residential and commercial areas.
This proposal had also contributed to the higher costs because of the need to clear the forest area and to take over commercial and densely populated housing areas.
"Therefore, I believe that the Government's decision will not only guarantee the development of quality social infrastructure for the people, but also drive economic growth, create jobs and open up various economic opportunities in the value chain,” he added.