KL-S’pore high-speed rail work to start in 2015


TOKYO: THE construction of the high-speed rail (HSR) link between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore is expected to start at the end of next year.

Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) chairman Tan Sri Dr Syed Hamid Albar said the project’s feasibility study, carried out by the commission, had been submitted to the Malaysian and Singaporean governments and a meeting between the two governments would be held early next year to finalise the details.

“We have been given the timeline (to complete the project) by 2020 and our target is for the construction to begin next year.

“Construction will likely begin in the third quarter of next year,” he said after attending the International High-Speed Rail Conference: High-Speed Rail Accelerating Toward the Future here yesterday.

Syed Hamid said the exact date would depend on the outcome of the meeting between the two governments.

He said both governments were expected to ink an agreement on the project, reportedly to cost RM38.4 billion, which includes the purchase of locomotives and high-speed bullet trains.

“Two committees — Technical Committee and the Joint-Ministerial Committee — have been established to oversee the project.”

Syed Hamid said seven stations in Malaysia had been identified: Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya, Seremban, Ayer Keroh, Muar, Batu Pahat and Nusajaya.

“We have informed the state governments through the Economic Planning Unit and have received their approvals,” he said, adding
that the state governments had
given their feedback and SPAD would ensure that adjustments were made.

On the link’s system, he said both governments had yet to decide whether to adopt the European or the Japanese HSR system.

“We have been approached by several countries, including China, Japan, Spain, France, Germany and South Korea.”

The project is one of the entry point projects listed under the Economic Transformation Programme aimed at improving the economic dynamism of Malaysia’s capital city and liveability ranking relative to other global cities.

The goal of the HSR is to reduce the travel time between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore to 90 minutes.

At present, it takes up to eight hours by train between the two cities, around five hours by bus and car, and 45 minutes by flight.

The link is expected to benefit both countries economically and ease traffic congestion at the intercity rail network.

Current demand on the Causeway exceeds capacity by 33 per cent.

In February last year, Malaysia and Singapore reportedly agreed, in principle, to build the HSR link between the two countries, with a target completion date of 2020.

In April, Malaysian and Singaporean Prime Ministers Datuk Seri Najib Razak and Lee Hsien Loong reiterated that the project would be completed in 2020.

It was reported that several Malaysian and foreign firms had started talks to form consortiums to bid for the project.

They include MMC Corp Bhd, which may team up with Gamuda Bhd and Chinese and European system integrators, and YTL Corp Bhd, which partners Spanish bullet train maker Talgo or CAF.

Other firms are UEM Group Bhd, which is working with Ara Group to form a consortium with European companies that may include Talgo, and Global Rail Sdn Bhd, which is talking to Canada’s Bombardier Inc and Chinese firm China Railway Group. --http://www.nst.com.my/
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