Developers lobby for KL-Singapore high-speed rail station in Forest City

Developers of Forest City in Johor have lobbied the Malaysian government to place a high-speed rail (HSR) station in the mega property project just west of the Second Link crossing between Singapore and Malaysia, The Straits Times has learnt.

Sources said Country Garden - a top Chinese developer that is building Forest City in a joint venture with the state government and Sultan of Johor - is "naturally hoping the HSR will stop there" to boost the development, which has a projected value of RM450 billion (S$144 billion). The planned 350km HSR linking Kuala Lumpur and Singapore is expected to begin running by the end of 2026.

If Country Garden's proposal is adopted, it will likely take the form of a spur line - or a short branch line - on the transit service in Malaysia, leaving the Singapore-Kuala Lumpur express route unaffected.

"If the HSR stops at Forest City, the distance will be too short to continue to Singapore," a source told The Straits Times, explaining why a spur line is more feasible. The distance between the nearest point from Forest City to the maritime border with Singapore is just 1.1km.

Any proposal regarding the HSR must be agreed on bilaterally between Malaysia and Singapore, although the additional cost to extend a spur line to Forest City could be borne by Malaysia alone.

A spokesman for Singapore's Ministry of Transport told The Straits Times: "We have not received a request by the Malaysian government to revise the alignment of the HSR."

There are also plans for ferry, road and rail links from Forest City to mainland Johor and Singapore, but there has been no confirmation that the Republic has agreed to them.

The land reclamation project of Forest City - comprising four man-made islands in the Strait of Johor covering 1,386ha, nearly thrice the size of Sentosa Island - is set to be completed over 20 years and cost RM175 billion.

Singapore and Malaysia signed a bilateral agreement on Dec 13 last year to embark on the HSR project. The bullet trains - which will cut travel time between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore to 90 minutes - are expected to begin running by Dec 31, 2026.

The existing track alignment will run from Bandar Malaysia, just south of Kuala Lumpur, passing six transit stops up to Iskandar Puteri in Johor, before terminating in Jurong, Singapore.

Malaysia's Land Public Transport Commission and Country Garden Pacificview - the joint-venture company developing Forest City - did not respond to requests for comment.

Country Garden owns 60 per cent of Forest City. Its Johor partner is Esplanade Danga 88, which has Johor Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar as its largest shareholder.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 14, 2017, with the headline Developers lobby for KL-Singapore high-speed rail station in Forest City. Subscribe