ECRL project promises affordable fares

by ANIS HAZIM / pic source Wee Ka Siong’s Facebook

THE capital expenditure (capex) of the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) project will not be taken into consideration when formulating its fares.

Transport Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong (picture) said the Land Public Transport Agency (APAD) will be tasked to come up with figures and calculations similar to that used for Keretapi Tanah Melayu Bhd fares.

“If we want to recover the capex, it will be impossible to make the fares affordable,” Wee told a press conference at the launching ceremony of the ECRL first tunnel boring machine yesterday. 

He said the ECRL fares cannot be highly charged, especially since the transportation will mostly benefit the people of Kelantan and Terengganu, once it is completed, which is scheduled for January 2027.

“APAD has its own mechanism, they will formulate it and we will make an announcement soon,” he noted.

Earlier, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob urged the Transportation Ministry to discuss with stakeholders to formulate affordable ECRL service fare rates.

Wee also assured that the ECRL project would remain at RM50.27 billion amid the global economic challenges including workers shortage, escalating cost of materials due to international conflicts and the depreciation of the ringgit.

Meanwhile, when asked on any possibility of changes for the multi-billion project if a new government takes over the administration following the rumours of the 15th general election (GE15), Wee saw that this would not change the project as it had already been signed.

“Once the minister has signed the railway scheme, where the locations of the stations are and other details have already been published, so they must be complied with as per the Parliament Act.

“Even if there is a government takeover, the new government has to carry out what it inherits,” he added.

According to the current GE14 schedule, the Parliament will be automatically dissolved in July 2023, whereas the ECRL project will still be in progress.

As of May, the ECRL project which is set to be the longest rail tunnel in South-East Asia upon completion, has been progressing at about 30% level.