At the breaking-ground ceremony for the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak described the rail link as a 'game changer' and 'mindset changer' for Malaysia as it will significantly cut travel time to and from the east coast of the peninsula.
The journey is expected to take less than four hours compared to the average eight hours and even up to 12 hours or more during the festive seasons, he said.
"The ECRL project also sets the tone for an economic spin-off effect and positive social impact for the east coast states. It will be a catalyst for economic equality between the west and east coast as it will stimulate investment, spur commercial activities, create ample jobs, facilitate quality education and boost tourism in Pahang, Terengganu and Kelantan," Najib said.
The ECRL will link economic industrial areas with the East Coast Economic Region, and is timely with the ongoing expansion of Kuantan Port into a deep-water terminal that will soon be able to cater to larger vessels up to 200,000 deadweight tonnage or 18,000 twenty-foot equivalent unit container ships, Najib said.
The $13 billion project is being financed in part by the Chinese government's 'belt and road' infrastructure initiative.
Belt and road, also known as 'one belt one road', is a Chinese government development strategy. It focuses on land and sea based connectivity from China to major markets in Europe, Asia and the Middle East.