Singapore, Malaysia to ink high-speed rail agreement today

PM Lee (second left) and Malaysian PM Najib Razak observing Singaporean Minister for Transport Khaw Boon Wan (left) and Malaysian Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Abdul Rahman Dahlan, as they sign the High Speed Rail MOU, on July 19, 2016.
PM Lee (second left) and Malaysian PM Najib Razak observing Singaporean Minister for Transport Khaw Boon Wan (left) and Malaysian Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Abdul Rahman Dahlan, as they sign the High Speed Rail MOU, on July 19, 2016.PHOTO: ST FILE

PM Lee and Najib to attend Leaders' Retreat and witness signing; project billed as game changer for both countries

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong will visit Putrajaya today for the annual Malaysia-Singapore Leaders' Retreat with his Malaysian counterpart Najib Razak.

Both prime ministers will witness the signing of a bilateral agreement for the high-speed rail linking Singapore and Kuala Lumpur, the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) said in a statement yesterday.

The 350km high-speed rail line, first mooted in 2013, is billed as a "game changer" for both countries.

The mega project will shave travel time by land between Singapore and Kuala Lumpur to 90 minutes, compared with more than four hours by car.

The signing of the agreement is a culmination of intensive bilateral discussions since the 2013 Leaders' Retreat, and furthers the good progress made by both countries since a memorandum of understanding was signed in July, the PMO statement said.

"It also demonstrates the two governments' commitment to the project, which will boost connectivity, strengthen economic ties and enhance people-to-people linkages when completed," the statement added.

 
 

PM Lee will be accompanied by Mrs Lee and a high-level delegation comprising Deputy Prime Minister and Coordinating Minister for National Security Teo Chee Hean; Transport Minister and Coordinating Minister for Infrastructure Khaw Boon Wan; Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan; Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu; Minister for National Development and Second Minister for Finance Lawrence Wong; Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli; Minister for Education (Schools) and Second Minister for Transport Ng Chee Meng; Senior Minister of State for Finance and Law Indranee Rajah; Senior Minister of State for Home Affairs and National Development Desmond Lee; and Minister of State for Health Lam Pin Min.

Mr Khaw and Malaysian Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Abdul Rahman Dahlan will sign the bilateral agreement.

Both sides were originally scheduled to meet on Dec 5, but that meeting was postponed.

Datuk Seri Najib had told reporters in Iskandar Puteri, Johor, that Singapore had requested a bit more time as it needed the President's approval before inking the pact.

According to MyHSR, the agency in charge of the Malaysian share of the project, bids for the tender to build the line will be evaluated at the end of 2018.

Tender documents for the systems package - for the actual rail track and train carriages - will be issued at the end of next year, said MyHSR chief executive Mohd Nur Ismal Mohamed Kamal last week.

Three services will run along the eight-station, dual-track line.

There will be an express service between the two terminal stations - Jurong East in Singapore and Bandar Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur; a shorter shuttle service will connect Singapore and Iskandar Puteri in Johor; and a domestic service will link the seven stations in Malaysia.

International-bound travellers will need to clear immigration and Customs only when departing the respective countries.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 13, 2016, with the headline 'S'pore, KL to ink high-speed rail agreement today'. Print Edition | Subscribe