KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 18 — The East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) passenger train will travel at a maximum speed of 160 km/h upon the commencement of commercial operations in January 2027 from Kota Bharu, Kelantan to ITT (Integrated Transport Terminal) Gombak, Selangor.

Malaysia Rail Link Sdn Bhd (MRL), the project owner of the ECRL, in a statement said its rail infrastructure including foundation works, rail track, rail signalling system and rolling stock have been specifically developed based on a design of less than 200km/h.

“Since its inception in August 2017, the ECRL Project has planned, managed and implemeted its rail infrastructure on the premise of a fast train for passengers and not a high-speed train which industry standards dictates a running speed of at least 250 km/h,” the said MRL.

According to the statement, the ECRL project’s rail alignment has also been designed with horizontal curves and cants (superelevation) as well as a gradient that is not on par with high-speed rail track, considering a sizeable section of the alignment in the East Coast states is built in sites with poor soil condition, cutting through hilly terrain and traverse wide river crossings.

On that note, MRL emphasised that the ECRL remained a fast train for passengers only, and couldn’t be upgraded or converted into a high-speed train under current engineering specifications and operating systems, the statement further said.

MRL issued the statement to clarify that news reports citing a Chinese expert suggesting that the ECRL could increase its speed to 351 km/h during the Belt and Road Initiative in ASEAN forum were inaccurate and misleading.

MRL also highlighted that the ECRL was also designed primarily for cargo transportation, with 70 per cent of its revenue ratio during operation projected to be derived from freight and 30 per cent from passengers.

It said, therefore, the ECRL passenger service that had been added was largely constrained by the design requirements for its freight trains.

The ECRL passenger train would be able to link Kota Bharu with ITT Gombak in four hours when operational in January 2027 as compared to seven hours by road transport and many more hours during festive seasons, said MRL.


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