KUALA LUMPUR: The Kuala Lumpur-Singapore high-speed rail (HSR) system, Southeast Asia’s most ambitious infrastructure project, may start commercial operation in 2027. The initial target was 2020 when the HSR project was first announced, but sources familiar with the matter said the completion date would likely be later. “We have to look at negotiations between Malaysia and Singapore which have taken three years.

They have been discussing aspects of technical, security, immigration and safety, as well as governance and implementation. “Once the bilateral agreement is signed this year, it will follow with the procurement process, which we expect would take two to three years. We anticipate construction and commissioning to take more than seven years. So, 2027 would be a more realistic target,” said one of the sources. The HSR project was announced during the Malaysia-Singapore leaders retreat here in February 2013, but no cost estimation was given. Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said recently a memorandum of understanding was expected to be inked by the middle of this year, and the bilateral agreement at the end of this year. A tender for technical advisory services was called by MyHSR Corp Sdn Bhd two weeks ago and the submission deadline is early next month.

MyHSR Corp is the project delivery vehicle representing Malaysia in the HSR project. Business Times had reported that work on the HSR project might start in early 2018 at a likely cost of RM60 billion to RM65 billion. This was based on the current estimated cost of US$10 million (RM3.9 million) per kilometre for the systems and tracks. The civil infrastructure work is expected to cost three times more than that. The HSR line involves a total of 350km. It will include a double-track on standard gauge powered with high-speed technologies. The HSR will have seven stops, a terminus each in Bandar Malaysia, here, and Jurong East in Singapore, and five transit stations in Seremban in Negri Sembilan, Ayer Keroh in Malacca and Muar, Batu Pahat and Iskandar Puteri in Johor. At least 60 four-car trains worth around RM5 billion are required to serve the line. The trains will run at a speed of more than 300kph. Meanwhile, sources said Johor and Singapore would be connected by a bridge that would be built parallel to the Second Link. “That is something both nations are finalising. They don’t anticipate a need for an underwater tunnel as it would cost too much,” said a source.

Source : New Straits Times