Malaysia’s mega train project proceeds despite COVID-19

KUALA LUMPUR (XINHUA) – The construction schedule on the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL), Malaysia’s mega rail project being built by China Communications Construction Company (CCCC), has not been affected by the COVID-19 situation and work is ahead of schedule, Malaysian media reported.

Chief Executive Officer Darwis Abdul Razak of Malaysia Rail Link (MRL) , a company wholly owned subsidiary of Malaysia’s Ministry of Finance and the ECRL project owner, said the construction is ongoing despite COVID-19 and expressed confidence that the 640km ECRL would see completion as scheduled.

“This is because the overall project is slightly ahead of schedule, driven by rapid construction work for ECRL’s alignment in Section A and Section B,” he was quoted as saying in a report by state news agency Bernama on Sunday.

The project is divided into three sections and is expected to be completed by 2026, with the main contractor being CCCC.

Darwis said the project registered overall progress of 18.10 per cent to date when compared to 16.86 per cent in June as the construction primarily involves earthworks, tunnel excavation, bridge work, foundation work and prefabricated vertical drains.

Workers at a bridge construction site of the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) in Pahang state, Malaysia. PHOTO: XINHUA

“The number of priority locations for construction, in both Sections A and B, is expected to increase to 101 spots by the year-end as compared to 27 spots a year ago,” he added.

The construction of the ECRL was temporarily halted earlier this year when the Malaysian government implemented restrictive measures to curb the spread of COVID-19, but the work soon resumed following the relaxation of the measures.

The ECRL runs from Malaysia’s largest transport hub Port Klang and travels across the peninsula to Kelantan state in northeastern Malaysia, which is expected to greatly enhance connectivity and bring more balanced growth to the country by linking its less-developed region on the East Coast to the economic heartland on the West Coast.

Darwis also said MRL is also banking on the recent recruitment of locals from the east coast states into the ECRL Industrial Skills Training Programme, for potential employment in the rail construction sector, to expedite the construction.

The MRL and CCCC recently announced a recruitment drive under the programme, which is expected to benefit up to 5,000 trainees to be involved in the ECRL’s construction, operation and maintenance.