Malaysia will be the first country to deploy the LTE-Railway (LTE-R) communications network using 4G technology on the 665km East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) passenger trains. The use of this communications network is expected to provide significant improvements in terms of safety, enabling faster communication and signaling compared to the GSM-R cellular network technology commonly used in rail systems.
According to Malaysia Rail Link (MRL) Chief Executive Officer, Datuk Seri Darwis Abdul Razak, this communication uses 4G, so if the country wants to upgrade to 5G in the future, the infrastructure is already in place. So all that is needed is to update the software. According to him, the communication system for train services is very important, especially in terms of safety.
He also explained that with the use of this network, train passengers will continue to be connected to the Internet throughout the journey, even when they are in the tunnel.
LTE-R technology, which is based on 4G LTE used by mobile operators, is designed to support critical communications in railway operations and maintenance. It also provides robust multimedia services.
The world's first LTE-R network was implemented in South Korea on the Wonju-Gangneung high-speed railway.
The ECRL is expected to improve connectivity between the east coast states of Peninsular Malaysia (Kelantan, Terengganu and Pahang) and the west coast states (Negri Sembilan, Selangor and Federal Territory of Putrajaya). Currently, the region has only partial rail connectivity.
The project, which is scheduled for completion in 2026, has reached 54.14 percent progress as of last month. Tunnel breakthroughs have also reached 25 tunnels out of a total of 40 planned tunnels. The plan is to operate the ERCL at a maximum speed of 160 kilometers per hour. The announcement of ticket prices for ECRL services is also expected to be made in 2026, following the approval of the National Public Transport Agency (APAD).
The construction of this project also remains environmentally friendly. Darwis said that about 27 level crossings, bridges and tunnels have been constructed to preserve and protect wildlife and the environment. the preservation of forest land also includes a 90 percent reduction in the use of forest reserves from an initial 2,000 hectares to 270 hectares.
The ECRL line from Kota Baru to Gombak is scheduled to be completed by December 31, 2026, while the line from Gombak to Port Klang is scheduled to be completed by December 31, 2027.