Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed said the cost of operation for the train service would be high but the government was willing to subsidise it up to its capability. Pix by Fariz Iswadi Ismail

KOTA BARU: The government will ensure that the rail fare for the East Coast Railway Link (ECRL) project from Gombak in Selangor to Kelantan, will be affordable to the people.

State federal action council chairman Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed said the cost of operation for the train service would be high but the government was willing to subsidise it up to its capability.

"No country makes a profit from public transport, there need to be government assistance. Like the Mass Rapit Transit (MRT), it is subsidised at least by 50 percent although I don't know the actual figure.

"Just like the healthcare service, the government spent RM22 billion but collected only RM700 million from the people," he told reporters after chairing the council's meeting here yesterday.

He was commenting on statements by the opposition that the high cost of the project would lead to a high fare for the ECRL service.

Mustapa, who is also International Trade and Industry Minister, said the important thing was the government cares for the people and assured that the fare will be affordable.

However, he said, the people should also be realistic and not expect the fare to be maintained for years to come due to the rising costs.

He said the fare charged for the service would not be able to cover the cost spent on the project.

"It will be subsidised, if not it will be very expensive," he said.

On another matter, Mustapa said the Kelantan government has started the process of acquiring 445 hectares of land in the state for the construction of the railway line and five stations in the state.

"Kelantan is the first state to act to acquire the land and we thanked the state government for its commitment to assist the federal government in the project," he said.

Mustapa said the state would have 70km of railway line from the border of Terengganu with the first phase covering 46km and the balance in the second phase.

He said the first phase would have three stations in Tok Bali, Jelawat and here while in the second phase, there would be two stations in Wakaf Baru and Pengkalan Kubur, both in the Tumpat district.

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