In this Aug 9 file photo, members of the public view the ECRL model in Kuantan. Deputy Finance Minister Datuk Othman Aziz tells the Dewan Rakyat today that the rates for the rail service will be affordable. File pic by MUHAMMAD ASYRAF SAWAL

KUALA LUMPUR: Passengers will pay as little as 20 cents per kilometre for the 688km East Coast Rail Link (ECRL).

Deputy Finance Minister Datuk Othman Aziz said this is to ensure that the fare will not to burden the people.

"As an example, the fare for a trip from Gombak to Tumpat will cost about RM120.

"The fare will not burden the people," he said this in reply to Datuk Dr Ewon Ebin (BN-Ranau) in Dewan Rakyat today.

Ewon had asked the ministry to state the country's projected revenue from the ECRL project and whether the income would be sufficient to pay the cost of the project.

Othman said ECRL's revenue will not be focused on just passenger fares alone.

He said ECRL, which will cut travel time between the east and west coast from 12 hours on average to a mere four hours, will also harness freight charges to boost revenue.

In August, 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.

He noted that no country makes a profit from public transport and just like the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT), the ECRL is subsidised by at least 50 percent.

The Opposition had criticised that the high cost of the ECRL project would lead to an expensive fare. --Reporting by FERNANDO FONG, VEENA BABULAL and ARFA YUNUS

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