Malaysia to renegotiate route of $10.6bn East Coast Rail Link

The government of Malaysia said today that it was planning to revert to the original route for its $10.6bn East Coast Rail Link, and would discuss the cost implications with its contractor, China Communications Construction Company (CCCC).

Deputy transport minister Hasbi Habibollah told parliament: "The government will renegotiate with the Chinese government and the main contractor of the project to ascertain the cost implication and project implementation schedule."

He said the results of the negotiation would be presented to the government, after which the route would be finalised. He added that he expected the cost of the scheme to be "more or less the same as at present".

The plan to build a 640km double-tracked rail link has had no shortage of renegotiation in its four-year history.

A deal to build it was first signed in November 2016 by the government of Prime Minister Najib Razak, and work began in August 2017. At that time, the cost was put at between $13.1bn and $15.9bn.

Work was then halted in July 2018 after the government of Mahathir Mohamed came to power. At first, the Malaysians suggested the deal was cancelled, but then talks followed that resulted in a new route and reduced costs.  

Changes to the route were made to meet cultural, heritage and environmental concerns. The realigned stretch was to have run from Mentakab to Port Klang via Negeri Sembilan to avoid traversing the Klang Gate Quartz Ridge.

The link will be one of the flagship projects for China’s Belt and Road Initiative. Completion is scheduled for 2026.

Image: The link’s west coast terminus will be Port Klang (Hafiz343/CC BY-SA 4.0)

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