PETALING JAYA: An Umno Supreme Council member is pushing for the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) to be reverted to its original alignment through Bentong to Gombak, saying this will shorten the journey to Kuala Lumpur and stimulate the tourism sector in and around Pahang.
“Now the ECRL will not reach the capital because the alignment has been changed and the nearest ECRL station to Kuala Lumpur is in Bangi and Putrajaya,” Sharkar Shamsuddin said in a statement.
“This means that Kuala Lumpur residents need to head south before boarding the ECRL train in Bangi or Putrajaya to go north, and residents from Pahang and the east coast who want to go to Kuala Lumpur have to go to Putrajaya first.”
Sharkar also said the ECRL’s goal was to shorten the travel time from Gombak to Kota Bharu to less than four hours compared to the average of seven hours via regular roads.
It was previously reported that there was a proposal by the transport ministry to revert to the original ECRL alignment plan proposed during the former Barisan Nasional (BN) administration, with Economic Affairs Minister Mustapa Mohamed recently confirming that the matter was under discussion.
Sharkar, who is also the Pahang state tourism, environment and plantations committee chairman, said the ECRL would provide more exposure to the state’s tourism offerings such as its culture, beaches and handicraft.
“Tourists who want to go to Pahang and other states in the east coast also need to go to Putrajaya first if they want to use the ECRL? Is this a wise move to boost the tourism industry, especially in the east coast states?” he asked.
The Pakatan Harapan (PH) administration realigned the line from north to south when it came to power in 2018, shortening the route by 40km and saving some RM20 billion in costs.
However, Sharkar said PH’s decision to change the route was based on political factors rather than the geological and environmental aspects that it touted.
“The project should be evaluated for its progress over the next 30 years considering this is a long-term plan for the people, especially the next generation. Due to that factor, the original alignment of the ECRL needs to be restored because the implementation of the project is not to burden the people.”