Room for slow rail service for discerning travellers

I hope Singapore and Malaysia can build a high-speed rail system that is the envy of the world ("High-speed rail bids to be evaluated 'end-2018'"; Dec 9).

If well thought out, it could become one of the best train rides to be had.

Perhaps there could even be an Orient Express-type service attached to it on a separate line, going at a much slower speed, as in the old days, for the more casual and discerning traveller.

It would cater to those with a taste for the high life and with time on their hands, wanting to get the most out of their journey.

There are many services like this across the world that work well.

The one between Singapore and Malaysia could well become the crown jewel when it comes to luxury rail travel in Asia, with the emphasis on heightened comfort.

It should also aim to put the romance back in rail travel, but with the practical, modern-day traveller in mind.

After all, luxury travel is an art. It is a little bit like business class on most airlines, where one gets to enjoy all the amenities that would make the journey a pleasant one to be savoured.

And it does not have to be too expensive, like the original Orient Express between Paris and Istanbul, which could set one back by £5,700. There are now similar experiences to be had in Europe, and around the world, but at a fraction of the cost.

There should be the standard bars and restaurants or dining saloons, as they are normally referred to. The air-conditioned cars would have to come with the appropriate lush decor, and be cushioned for maximum comfort for the ride.

There should be stops along the way to allow one to take in the landscape, especially for Singaporeans getting out of the city. This should include stops to stretch and enjoy the fresh air, or perhaps a quick visit to a curio shop. There must also be allowances made for those wishing to visit Batu Pahat or Muar, or to look at business opportunities in Seremban or Putrajaya.

Inspiration for everything, from rolling stock to the locomotive, must be drawn from other successful experiments in rail travel in other countries. But at the end of the day, it must have a character synonymous with this part of the world, to make it truly unique. It must incorporate diverse cultural elements to be found at both ends of the Causeway.

Most of all, it must serve to bring both countries even closer together, especially as they have so much in common, with their shared history on display in the trains and at the stations.

Manoraj Rajathurai