Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his Malaysian counterpart Najib Razak formally agreed on July 19 to jointly construct a high-speed rail link between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore by 2026, the Singapore-Malaysia High-Speed Rail (HSR).
The agreement will pave the way for final negotiations on the development and execution of the 300-kilometer line connecting the two cities. A tender for the project will be issued next year, Najib said, but noted that it was “too early to discuss the cost of the project.”
Estimations have been made that the project, depending on the complexity of the construction, could costs anything between $10 billion and $27 billion.
First unveiled in February 2013, the proposed HSR line aims to reduce travel time between Singapore and Kuala Lumpur to around 90 minutes from about five hours by bus and almost seven hours by normal train presently. The HSR trains will run at a top speed of more than 300 kilometers an hour and as such challenge budget carriers such as AirAsia and Tiger Airways, which fly passengers from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur in about an hour.
The agreement captures key points of agreement on the project, including technical parameters, commercial model, customs, immigration and quarantine clearance, safety and security matters, regulatory framework as well as project management.
“The high-speed rail is a key bilateral project for both countries,” Lee’s office said in a statement, adding that “the two governments’ commitment to this project is a reflection of our strong bilateral ties and our continued efforts to deepen relations. When completed, the HSR will boost connectivity, strengthen economic ties and forge closer people-to-people linkages.”
Malaysia and Singapore received close to 250 submissions after calling for a Request for Information for the project, and 98 were shortlisted, the New Straits Times reported in December.
Fourteen foreign entities among the 98 were asked to present their views, including France’s Alstom, Germany’s Siemens AG, Spain’s CAF and Talgo SA, Canada’s Bombardier, a group led by China Railway, as well as consortium from Japan and South Korea.