All systems go for China-Thailand-Malaysia BRI rail link

A route map of the ECRL rail journey from the Integrated Transport Terminal (ITT) in Gombak to Wakaf Baru is displayed at the SPAD headquarters in Kuala Lumpur on March 8, 2017. — Bernama
ECRL project a game changer for Malaysia: PM Najib (Updated)
Posted on 9 August 2017 - 02:52pm
Last updated on 9 August 2017 - 04:13pm
KUANTAN: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak today described the establishment of the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) 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. He said the rail journey from the Integrated Transport Terminal (ITT) in Gombak, Selangor to Kota Baru, Kelantan was expected to be less than four hours compared to the average eight hours and even up to 12 hours or more, during the festive seasons, thus making the ECRL a comfortable alternative transportation medium once completed. "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." … for more, go to 

All systems go for China-Thailand-Malaysia BRI rail link

KUALA LUMPUR (January 2018): Thailand’s long-delayed approval for a US$5.2 billion rail link to China is a boost to the Belt Road Initiative (BRI).

It completes one of the many BRI rail links to China, linking the communist state to Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore.

China’s BRI, formerly known as the One Belt One Road (OBOR) Initiative, is the revival of the ancient Silk Route trade network.

China has committed some US$4 trillion over 15 years to ensure the realisation of the US$6 trillion infrastructure projects to fuel the BRI economies of at least 65 countries.

Malaysia’s construction of the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) with Chinese expertise is estimated to cost RM60 billion and will link to Thailand.

Singapore is also expected to utilise the ECRL due to its proximity to Malaysia.

The BRI is thus a significant global economic and trade game changer, especially for Asia, Europe, Africa and even the Scandinavian countries.

Here are the details in a South China Morning Post news report:

"Thailand approves long-delayed US$5.2b rail link to China

Thailand will cover the construction costs but the majority of technical expertise will come from Chinese engineers

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 11 July, 2017, 8:15pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 12 July, 2017, 12:02am

Liu ZhenAgencies
Although China was only providing technology for the project, the progress gave Beijing a boost at a time when its blueprint for a network of high-speed rail links throughout Southeast Asia faced hurdles, experts said.

The grand plan would see trains travelling south from Kunming in Yunnan province through Laos, Thailand and Malaysia to Singapore. Construction in Laos began late last year.

A groundbreaking ceremony for the Thai section was held in 2015, with the deputy prime ministers from both China and Thailand attending.

But the project has been held up by disputes over financing, loan terms and labour protection regulations.

“The cabinet has approved phase one of the high speed railway ... from Bangkok to Korat with 179 billion baht [HK$41 billion] budget for a four-year plan,” Kobsak Pootrakool, a vice-minister from the prime minister’s office, told reporters.

Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, who heads the Thai military government, made use of an executive order last month to clear the way for the project. Thailand would cover the construction costs, the government said.

The first phase of the project is 250km, less than a third of the planned 850km track within Thailand and remains far from the extension to Nong Khai on the border with Laos.

Chinese experts heralded the decision by the Thai cabinet as significant progress.

“The Chinese railway could actually be used by the Thais and be displayed to other Southeast Asian countries, which is the most important thing,” Xu Liping, a Southeast Asian studies expert at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said.

“The ‘Belt and Road Initiative’ is supposed to be open to all and take into consideration all parties’ interests. China should be patient.”

Xu said Beijing’s push for high-speed rail projects was not very popular among the Thai media and some parts of the public despite interest shown by the previous government of Yingluck Shinawatra.

Thailand has also agreed to build a 700km high-speed rail connection between Bangkok and Chiang Mai using Japanese technology.

China lost the bid to Japan in 2016, and construction is scheduled to begin next year.

Thai Transport Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith has said local firms would be responsible for construction, while China would handle the design, technology, signalling systems and technical training.

“The project will use Thai materials but Chinese technology will be used in the construction,” Prayuth said. “We will send people to learn this so that we can operate the rail system ourselves in the future.”

Xu said there would likely be further challenges for the project, including legal issues over work permits for Chinese engineers and technical difficulties in training local workers

He also pointed to possible political uncertainty should the military government step down and decide to hold an election next year.

Reuters and Agence France-Presse
This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: Thai-China rail link gets US$5b funding"
China’s historic Belt and Road Initiative has the potential to transform the economies of 65 countries along its network. Image: REUTERS/Stringer
What is the New Silk Road?
The Silk Road was the name given in 1877 by the German geographer Ferdinand von Richthofen to the ancient network of trade routes linking China to central and western Asia, India and the Mediterranean region. Today, China is breathing new life into the Silk Road with the goal of forging stronger relationships with its neighbours through the development and sharing of resources. President Xi Jinping, speaking at the World Economic Forum 2017 in Davos, referred to the ancient Silk Road, highlighting the fact that international trade is an inherent human activity that helped in the past to maintain peace and stability over long periods of time.
What is its potential?
Today, the New Silk Road, or what is known as the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), has the potential to prompt a profound shift in the global order towards a new multilateralism. In a narrow sense, the BRI is primarily a strategic infrastructure initiative of historic proportions. The planning and delivery of scalable infrastructure for power generation, transportation, water supply, and telecommunications will bring much-needed economic and societal connectivity to the 65 countries along this new network. Through the BRI, China is proposing to share its immense financial and industrial resources and capabilities, as well as its experience of four decades of reform and opening-up, while securing its own long-term development … for more, go to