The Genting Tunnel on the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) is a key component for the shortening of travel distance between Bentong and Kuala Lumpur, former transport minister Tan Sri Liow Tiong Lai said.
Travel time between Bentong and the Gombak integrated transport terminal near Kuala Lumpur will be shortened by this section of the ECRL to just 28 minutes, The Star reported Liow as saying. “it will help to decongest the Karak highway,” Liow said.
The railway will promote ecotourism in Bentong in addition to economic growth for the eastern corridor of the peninsula, said Liow who is also former Bentong MP. Many locals in Bentong were also relieved and happy that the tunnel boring work had begun for the Genting Tunnel, he added.
“It means a lot to our people here, not only for relieving the congestion along the Karak Highway but also for shortening travel time between Bentong and KL,” Liow said.
As of April this year, overall progress for the East Coast Rail Link currently sits at 29%, with completion expected in December 2026 for operations to commence in 2027. Construction of the 16.39 km Genting Tunnel portion of the ECRL began in May.
The ECRL dates back to before the changes in ruling government, when it was cancelled in August 2018 after Pakatan Harapan came into power. The ECRL project was revived in April 2019, at a 32.8% cost reduction to RM44 billion. This meant that its cost-per-km figure was reduced to RM68.7 million, down from the original RM95.5 million per km.
Meanwhile, prime minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob has urged the transport ministry to hold discussions with stakeholders to determine reasonable pricing for ECRL fares in order for those to be similar to the rates for the ETS by KTM Berhad, which is seen as people-friendly, according to a separate report.
The ECRL project also has the potential to produce more local experts and skilled individuals in the rail industry through the dedicated skills training programme (PLKI-ECRL), the prime minister added.
“We urge local players to grab this opportunity to participate in the PLKI-ECRL training programme which is expected to generate 5,000 new job opportunities for the youth in the East Coast,” Ismail Sabri said, adding that 1,800 trainees will be absorbed during the construction phase of the ECRL and the remaining 3,200 trainees will be absorbed into the operations phase of the rail project.