The East Coast Rail Link (ECRL), Malaysia's mega rail project jointly constructed with China Communications Construction Company, saw another successful tunnel breakthrough on Monday.
The 2.8-km long Kuantan Tunnel has achieved a tunneling breakthrough two months ahead of schedule, becoming the 12th ECRL tunnel to complete the excavation process to date, Malaysia Rail Link (MRL) and China Communications Construction ECRL (CCCECRL) said in a statement.
"The final blast at Kuantan Tunnel today punched through the last barrier about 1,700 meters from the tunnel's entrance portal. The achievement is a culmination of approximately 4,961,700 man-hours and the adoption of the drill-and-blast method of tunneling that bored through primarily weathered granite," it said.
"Tunnel excavation works for the single-bore Kuantan Tunnel had progressed to 95.08 percent prior to today's breakthrough, while its permanent lining rose to a commendable length of 2,463.05 meters. The tunnel has an average height of 11.89 meters and width of 13.26 meters, which is adequate to accommodate two standard gauge railway tracks," it said.
The construction of Kuantan Tunnel will enable the ECRL railway track to comply with its maximum gradient of 0.9 percent as well as to avoid major open forest cutting in the Bukit Galing forest reserve, as part of efforts to mitigate any environmental impact.
Kong Qi, managing director of CCCECRL, expressed his appreciation for the excellent work progress made by the CCCECRL teams and local contractors in carrying out the tunneling works that have contributed to the breakthrough.
Darwis Abdul Razak, chief executive officer of MRL, said the breakthrough marks another milestone in the construction of the railway.
"The commitment and teamwork of some 170 ECRL personnel at all levels in carrying out the tunneling works have contributed to Kuantan Tunnel's breakthrough ahead of schedule. We wish to commend the efforts of the ECRL workforce at Kuantan Tunnel, which saw 380,000 cubic meters of soil and rock excavated safely and with minimal ground movement throughout," he said.
The ECRL runs from Malaysia's largest transport hub Port Klang and travels across the peninsula to Kelantan state in northeastern Malaysia. The rail link is expected to greatly enhance connectivity and bring more balanced growth to the country by linking its less-developed region on the east coast to the economic heartland on the west coast upon its completion in 2026.