Transport Ministry surprised by Malaysian transport agency stating preference to end high-speed rail in Johor

SINGAPORE - The Ministry of Transport (MOT) has issued a statement saying it is "surprised" by a recent report stating that Malaysia preferred to terminate the high-speed rail at the existing Customs, Immigration and Quarantine complex in Johor Bahru, Malaysia.

The comments were made by the Land Public Transport Commission's (Spad) chief executive Mohamad Nur Ismal Kamal during an interview with business publication, The Edge Malaysia, which was published on June 15.

MOT in its statement added that Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong had informed Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak at this year's Singapore-Malaysia Leaders' Retreat that the Singapore terminus would be in Jurong East. This location was then announced to the public at the joint press conference by the two Prime Ministers following the Retreat, it added.

It added that the two countries had agreed to build the rail link at the 2013 Leaders' Retreat and since then studies have been carried out by both countries.

"Our understanding is that Malaysia views the commercial premise of the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore HSR project, and with which we agree, as being based on a direct connection between the two city centres. Terminating the HSR in Johor Bahru will not achieve this objective," added MOT in the statement.

It pointed out that both sides are also in discussion on the project's commercial and operating models.

"Singapore has proposed that the domestic transit HSR services, which will stop at six stations in Malaysia between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore and hence primarily serve commuters travelling within Malaysia, be operated separately from the express non-stop HSR services between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. This will give Malaysia autonomy over the domestic transit services to serve Malaysia's domestic needs and benefit Malaysia, while both countries work together on the cross-border HSR services," said the MOT.

The Transport Ministry also clarified recent reports in Malaysian media about the Johor Bahru-Singapore Rapid Transit System (RTS) Link. The chairman of Johor's Exco for Public Works, Rural and Regional Development Committee Haji Hasni Haji Mohammad was quoted as saying in the Utusan Malaysia newspaper that the crossing would be a high bridge.

"Both countries can only determine the type and alignment of the crossing after both terminus locations have been confirmed. Singapore informed Malaysia in June 2011 that the terminus in Singapore would be located at the Woodlands North station of the Thomson-East Coast Line. However, we have yet to receive official confirmation of the location of Malaysia's RTS terminus in Johor Bahru," said the statement.