The government says that the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High-Speed Rail (HSR) project can continue as long as there are investments from the private sector. According to transport minister Anthony Loke, the government is open to proposals to revive the project from private parties that are technically and financially capable, and would accept new mechanisms of funding and implementation for it, The Star reports.
“We are open to any proposals as long as there are private investments. We’re not stopping it,” he told reporters on the sidelines of an Invest Malaysia event in KL yesterday. He however added that the government has yet to receive any complete proposal from any party, despite talks pushing for the project.
“A lot of parties are talking about the project, but we haven’t received any complete proposal. There is no timeline for the project because the agreement has been cancelled by the previous administration, so there is no urgency in reaching any milestone,” he said.
The plan for the KL-Singapore HSR began in December 2016 when both countries signed a bilateral agreement to facilitate the project, which was supposed to have begun construction in 2018 and completed in 2025, with operations slated to begin in 2026.
The project was planned as a 350 km-long double-track route (335 km of which was supposed to be in Malaysia, and 15 km in Singapore) with eight stops in total – Singapore, Iskandar Puteri, Batu Pahat, Muar, Ayer Keroh, Seremban, Putrajaya and Kuala Lumpur. A bridge over the Straits of Johor – with a height clearance of 25 metres – would have linked the line between both countries.
The service was projected to run 10 car-long trains – with the capacity for up to 100 passengers per car – at average speeds of 300 km/h, which would bring the rail travel time between KL and Singapore down to 90 minutes, excluding clearance at customs, immigration and quarantine.
In September 2018, at the request of Malaysia, both governments agreed to postpone the project until May 31, 2020 to allow for the identification of cost reduction options, including reviewing and optimising the alignment, station locations and the business model.
The deferment resulted in Malaysia paying S$15 million (around RM45.1 million at the time) as compensation for the abortive costs incurred by Singapore. The payment was made at the end of January 2019. In May 2020, the deferment was extended to December 31 that year.
The HSR project was finally terminated by both countries in January 2021, when it was announced that both parties could not come to an agreement on the proposed changes. It was reported that the total payment eventually made by Malaysia to Singapore was S$102.8 million (RM330.3mil).
In November 2021, the KL-SG HSR popped up again when former prime minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakon made an official visit to Singapore. During the visit, he suggested reviving discussions on the HSR to his Singaporean counterpart Lee Hsien Loong, who said he was open to any new proposal on the project.