BEIJING: The RM21. 5 billion reduction in cost for the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) was mainly achieved by reducing the cost per kilometre for the project from RM90 million to RM68 million.

Tun Daim Zainuddin, the Prime Minister’s special envoy heading the ECRL talks with China, said the 688km link would be slightly shorter but will remain as a double tracking line.

"It will not go through Gombak. The revised line will be Kota Baru-Mentakab-Jelebu-Kuala Kelawang-Bangi/Putrajaya-Port Klang," he told Malaysian media at a press conference here today.

Daim said the supplementary agreement signed at 11am today represents an improved deal on the ECRL, and is the result of negotiations since July 2018 to find a way to continue the project at a lower cost.

The original cost of the project was RM65.5 billion, and would have seen the government saddled with a RM130 billion debt under the earlier terms and conditions.

"The earlier (BN) government agreed. But this new government is concerned about cost. This is the rakyat's money. Being able to save RM21.5 billion is a big achievement," Daim added.

He said further details of the supplementary agreement will be announced by prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad on Monday.

A view of ECRL project site at Bentong Pahang. Pix by NSTP/Zunnur Al Shafiq