Putrajaya—Malaysian Prime Minister Dr Tun Mahathir Mohamad has said that his country is in agreement concerning the construction of the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High-Speed Rail (HSR). However, he mentioned that the speed of the train could be made slower in order to decrease the overall costs of the project.
When members of the press asked the Prime Minister questions about the HSR at a signing ceremony on Tuesday, December 17, he said: “It will go ahead, but we will have to find out what is the most suitable speed that we should have.”
He added, “It’s not necessary for it to be 400kmh, because if it travels at 400km, it might reach Alor Setar. So we will look into what is most suitable for this project,” Channel News Asia (CNA) reports.
One important factor is the cost of the HSR, as Malaysia has expressed the desire to spend less on the project. According to Dr Mahathir, ”We would like to spend less money; it’s very expensive, this high-speed rail. But maybe we can scale down or do some adjustments in order to reduce the cost, and maybe less speed will contribute towards the reduction of the cost.”
If the original plans for the HSR are followed, it would only take 90 minutes to travel between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. At present, it takes 11 hours on the existing train lines.
The HSR is one of the initiatives that had been passed under the administration of former Prime Minister Najib Razak, but after the elections in May 2018, were put under review, as the new Government evaluated Malaysia’s financial state.
In January of this year, Malaysia announced that it had paid Singapore for “abortive costs” that had been accumulated because the project had been postponed, and a few months afterward, in June, the firm in Malaysia that is managing the project announced in turn that it had taken on board commercial and technical consultants to evaluate possible changes to the design as well as look into ways of lowering overall costs.
In September, the postponement of the project was announced until the end of May of next year, as agreed upon by the Singaporean and Malaysian governments. Malaysia also agreed to pay Singapore S$15 million for the expenses that had already occurred due to the suspension of the HSR initiative.
A few months ago, it was announced that another transit-related project, the Johor Bahru-Singapore Rapid Transit System (RTS) Link, would push through.
On October 31, Malaysian Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad confirmed in a press conference that the RTS Link would indeed be constructed. Work on the link would resume without further delay, he added, and that the link would be built with a cost cut of 36 percent, “from RM4.93 billion to RM3.16 billion.”
The link was originally planned in order to reduce the heavy traffic on the Johor Causeway and connect Singapore to the Southern Economic Corridor Iskandar Malaysia. The agreement to build the link had been signed between the Government of Singapore and the administration of then Prime Minister Najib Razak. This project was also put on hold when Dr Mahathir began his term, as his administration evaluated its costs.
On November 4, Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan said that the suspension of the construction of the Johor Bahru-Singapore Rapid Transit System (RTS) Link project had been extended to April 30, 2020. -/TISG