Ending high-speed rail in S'pore a win-win for all

I DISAGREE with Mr Aaron Ang Chin Guan that the high-speed rail between Singapore and Kuala Lumpur should start and end in Johor Baru and that Singapore should not participate in, what he terms, a Malaysian transportation project ("End high-speed rail in JB"; Thursday).

Even after Malaysia moved its customs and immigration checkpoints out of Tanjong Pagar, for years, we were unable to plan and develop the land. It did not belong to us.

Eventually, we had to swop prime land in the Marina Bay and Rochor areas for the return of the land occupied by the railway.

REPUBLIC CAN’T AFFORD NOT TO GET INVOLVED

We cannot afford to be constrained by political borders, and high-speed rail links are there to connect cities in the region. The Malaysian high-speed rail link could eventually be part of a larger project that could extend to Thailand, and even China. Can Singapore afford not to get involved? The high-speed rail will certainly benefit Singapore, too.

– Peter Tan Kok Wan

As Malaysia develops its north-south rail network, extending it to end in Singapore is a win-win situation benefiting both countries. It is proof of good bilateral relations.

With travelling time cut to 90 minutes each way, Malaysian workers here can return home in the shortest possible time to see their loved ones over the weekend or during festive seasons.

Singaporeans can indulge in their favourite pastime of eating and shopping, and returning on the same day. Businesses will also benefit. At the moment, it is a one-hour flight or a five-hour drive to KL.

It is both inconvenient and time-consuming to have to board or alight in Johor Baru.

With Singaporeans and Malaysians heading to and from Johor Baru, there will be traffic snarls across the Causeway.

Jurong East is the right choice for a terminus for travellers in both directions. Facilities will be built on land returned by a golf club, instead of encroaching on valuable land elsewhere.

Jurong East will be a hive of activity. Before the decision on the rail terminus, infrastructure developments were already going on around the area to create a vibrant future.

Economic benefits are immeasurable. An additional track from Jurong East to Woodlands is already part of a planned rail link between the two towns. There are also plans for our MRT to be extended to Johor Baru. It will be convenient for day trips and for residents there who travel to work here.

Singapore and Malaysia had a long history of sometimes rough relationships, and it is only the recent strong bilateral ties between our leaders that resulted in the proposed joint high-speed rail project terminating in Singapore.

The bond will further strengthen with the completion of the joint project.

Lin Howard

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 27, 2015, with the headline 'Ending high-speed rail in S'pore a win-win for all'. Print Edition | Subscribe