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November 11, 2010

Electrified railway line from Ipoh to Padang Besar 57% complete

Stories by KHARLEEZ ZUBIN
kharleezzubin@thestar.com.my

WORK on the Electrified Double Track Project (EDTP) from Ipoh to Padang Besar, which started in 2008, is now 57% complete.

The RM12.285bil EDTP project by MCC-Gamuda Joint Venture Sdn Bhd, the largest infrastructure undertaking to-date in the country, involves bridges, tunnels and new double track railway lines traversing over 300km across four states, Perak, Penang, Kedah and Perlis.

In the three years, with a total 19 million man hours clocked without any casualty, MMC-Gamuda have chalked up some engineering feats along the way.


Hard at work: Workers installing parapet walls for the marine viaduct over the Bukit Merah Lake in Perak.

Just last week, engineers successfully broke through the final segment of the 3.3km-long Berapit Tunnel in Padang Rengas, Taiping.

The event was witnessed by Transport Minister Datuk Seri Kong Cho Ha who signed a plaque to mark the breakthrough.

Once fully completed, it will be the longest railway tunnel in South-East Asia with 16 passages between the two tunnels created for security and emergency purposes.

Drill and blast work on the 9m-high and 9m-wide horseshoe-shaped twin tunnels started in July 2009 and the breakthrough was completed last week, ahead of schedule.

Major challenges faced by the 240 employees, including engineers, technicians and explosive experts were compounded by extremely hard granite rock and the constant active loads on the North-South Expressway.

With the final breakthrough, the tunnelling team has already started work on the remaining 25% or the final phase of lining the tunnels with concrete followed by mechanical and electrical works.

Another engineering milestone in sight for MGJV is the near completion of the longest marine viaduct in South-East Asia, over the Bukit Merah Lake, which is the most famous breeding ground for Arowanas in the country.

The marine viaduct over a lake which is also the longest in South-East Asia will replace the old KTM embankment bridge.

A media tour of construction work in Berapit, Lumut and Bukit Merah found MGJV work in full swing and progress is ahead of schedule.

Though the media tour did not extend to Prai, MGJV executive director Datuk Azmi Mat said a swing bridge would be another feather in the cap of engineering feat for MGJV.

Larut Tunnel near Taiping
In progress: The 300m-long Larut Tunnel near Taiping was penetrated in March and is near ready for commissioning.

The swing bridge will be the only railway bridge to be constructed over Sungai Prai that has a central span that swings to allow river navigation.

The Ipoh-Padang Besar Double Track project is expected to be completed at the end of 2011, ahead of schedule.