Hong Kong's MTR Corp plans joint bid with mainland rail giant to build Kuala Lumpur-Singapore link

A Hong Kong MTR train. The rail operator is planning to join China Railway Corporation to bid for a contract to build the high-speed rail link between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore.
A Hong Kong MTR train. The rail operator is planning to join China Railway Corporation to bid for a contract to build the high-speed rail link between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. PHOTO: APPLE DAILY

HONG KONG - Hong Kong's rail operator plans to join forces with a state-owned mainland Chinese rail giant to bid to build a multibillion-dollar rail line between Malaysia and Singapore, reported South China Morning Post (SCMP).

MTR Corporation chairman Frederick Ma Si-hang said his company was interested in partnering with China Railway Corporation to bid for a contract to build the 350km high-speed rail link between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore.

The project would be MTR Corp's first investment under China's "Belt and Road" plan.

"We want to expand into new markets under the 'Belt and Road' initiative," Mr Ma said. "But we are careful in considering factors such as financial viability of projects and risks."

He is part of a 30-strong delegation from Hong Kong led by Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying at the Belt and Road Forum in Beijing.

Chinese President Xi Jinping rolled out the red carpet for 1,200 delegates from more than 100 countries or territories on Sunday (May 14) and Monday.

Mr Ma learned from Malaysia's transport minister Liow Tiong Lai at the forum on Sunday that the tender for the rail project was due at the end of 2017, with completion expected in 2026.

Mr Ma said MTR Corp and China Railway Corp signed a memorandum of understanding for any cooperation in the "Belt and Road" initiative last December, paving the way for future partnership in more than 60 countries along the two trade corridors involved in the big plan: the old Silk Road land route to the north and the maritime Silk Road to the south.

He said the rail company was inclined to take a managerial role in any future projects, which are mostly capital intensive.

As well as Hong Kong, MTR Corp's reach includes Beijing, London, Australia and Sweden, mostly in managing rail lines, said SCMP.

The corporation also set up an academy last year to train engineers not only for Hong Kong but in Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia and Macau.