SINGAPORE: A total of seven consortiums so far have handed in concept proposals to MyHSR Corporation Bhd (MyHSR) for developing the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore high speed rail (HSR) project in what Malaysian media is calling an “intense competition.”

The project, a 350km/h high-speed line between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore, is expected to cost around RM100 billion (S$28.36 billion).

A bilateral agreement for the HSR was signed on Dec 31, 2016, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and then-Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, and was supposed to have been operational by 2026.

However, the agreement expired four years later after the two countries could not come to an agreement regarding the changes Malaysia wanted. This resulted in Malaysia needing to pay Singapore over S$100 million in compensation for the cancelled project.

Read related: Malaysian minister says compensation amount to Singapore for HSR is confidential

The HSR project has been revived, especially with the visit to Singapore of Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim for a leadership retreat with PM Lee earlier this month.

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“The KL-Singapore HSR will be developed based on a public-private partnership initiative on the design-finance-build-operate-transfer (DFBOT) model, without any government funding or guarantees,” said the Business Times in a report on Jan 26 (Friday).

The report identified the consortiums vying for the project. These include groups believed to be led by Tan Sri Vincent Tan Chee Yioun-controlled Berjaya Group, YTL Group, and China Railway.

Both Malaysian and foreign companies in civil engineering, technology, piling, design and build, signalling systems, construction supervision, and infrastructure development are included among the 31 firms that make up the seven groups.

The groups “should explain their business models, revenue streams, pricing, and demand strategies, as well as the legal and regulatory support the government requires in their concept proposal,” an insider told Business Times.

The Malaysian government is likely to come up with a shortlist of candidates within the next months and then begin negotiations with the government of Singapore for the end of the year.

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MyHSR Corp chairman Fauzi Abdul Rahman said earlier this month that results would be “presented to the transport ministry and the Cabinet for deliberation.

“If the response is positive, we will move on to the second phase with the request for proposal (RFP) stage to obtain detailed proposals from the selected consortia.”

Malaysia’s Minister of Finance owns MyHSR Corp under the supervision of the Ministry of Transport. It serves as the government’s project delivery vehicle. /TISG

Read also: Singapore-Malaysia HSR project: What next after cancellation?