Transport Minister Wee Ka Siong today said the suggestion to revert the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) back to the alignment first proposed by the BN government came from Pahang MB Wan Rosdy Wan Ismail."We had a meeting last month which was attended by the state menteris besar involved."While we were discussing the new alignment, the Pahang government suggested reverting to the original alignment. The Pahang menteri besar raised it," Wee (above) told an interview with 8TV Mandarin News.He said there was no final decision yet but made a few points on how the original alignment under BN can better serve logistical and population demands. Under the original alignment by BN, the ECRL would pass through Kelantan, Terengganu and Pahang before entering Selangor from the north through Gombak and making its way to Serendah and Port Klang.The then Harapan government altered the alignment so that it wouldn't go through Bentong and Gombak as initially planned, thus avoiding the need for a costly 17.8km tunnel through the Klang Gates Quartz Ridge. Instead, from Mentakab in Pahang, it would run south to Kuala Klawang in Negeri Sembilan before entering Selangor through Bangi/Kajang and then proceeding to Putrajaya Sentral and finally Port Klang.Wan Rosdy Wan IsmailHowever, Wee said there were more pressing need to ship cargo from the north compared to the south to Port Klang.He said this was because cargo in the south would utilise other ports such as the Port of Tanjung Pelepas in Johor.Wee added that passing through Gombak will allow integration with KTM and LRT lines.He said Bentong has a higher population compared to Kuala Klawang.There is a need to ensure that there will be enough cargo and passengers so that the ECRL does not become a white elephant project, Wee added.Asked if the reversion could cause the price of the ECRL to increase, the minister said the savings obtained by the previous Harapan government were largely from the reduction in the scope of work.On possible delays from considering a reversion, Wee said constructions of Package A (Kota Bharu to Dungun) and Package B (Dungun to Mentakab) of the ECRL are already ongoing.He said the discussion on whether to take a northern or southern passageway is for Package C, from Mentakab to Port Klang.Then Harapan prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad had argued that the new alignment would provide better integration with existing transportation lines. "The new alignment will leverage the existing KLIA Express Rail Link (ERL), as well as the future MRT2 Sungai Buloh-Serdang-Putrajaya line, with an interchange in Putrajaya Sentral."This will improve passenger connectivity to other parts of the peninsula's west coast, as well as provide a direct link to Kuala Lumpur International Airport," he had said.The planned Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High-Speed rail is also expected to pass the Putrajaya/Bangi area.Coupled with other changes including the reduction from 24 to 20 stations, the project cost was reduced from RM66.5 billion to RM44 billion. Earlier today, Umno's Jelebu MP Jalaluddin Alias objected to the proposal to revert to BN's original ECRL alignment and wanted to maintain the new alignment by Harapan that passes through Kuala Klawang which is within his parliamentary constituency. Meanwhile, Negeri Sembilan exco Teo Kok Seong said he had represented Negeri Sembilan menteri besar Amuniddin Harun in the National Physical Planning Council meeting on June 11 and expressed the state's objections to reverting the ECRL alignment."The ECRL which is to pass through the Jelebu and Seremban districts will surely generate economic growth in Negeri Sembilan and benefit its people," he said in a statement, adding that the state will "defend" the current alignment.
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