KUALA LUMPUR (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Land acquisition for the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore high speed rail (HSR) project will most likely take place by the third quarter of next year, following public display of the alignment plan by the middle of the year, said MyHSR Corporation Sdn Bhd.
MyHSR Corp is the agency tasked with overseeing the bilateral project that aims to bridge Kuala Lumpur (at Bandar Malaysia) with Singapore's Jurong East via a pair of rail tracks across 350km, with 335km of the tracks within Malaysian territory.
The corporation is now combing through swathes of land measuring 50m wide to be used as the final alignment from Bandar Malaysia, which will be built once the Sungai Besi airfield is vacated, all the way to Iskandar Puteri in Johor.
According to MyHSR Corp CEO Mohd Nur Ismal Kamal, the 50m-wide band will house the tracks as well as a buffer zone for safety purposes, given that the trains are capable of hitting up to 350kmh at full tilt.
"A mix of private and state land will be acquired, though a lot of them run through plantations," he said.
The first quarter of 2017 will see two milestones for the project.
One will be the announcement of the results of the tender jointly called with Singapore to appoint a Joint Development Partner (JDP) for the project that will have stops at Putrajaya, Seremban, Ayer Keroh, Muar and Batu Pahat.
Malaysia and Singapore will jointly award the tender for the JDP, which will provide advice on operational, technical and procurement matters, especially in relation to the systems side of the project.
In parallel to the tender for the JDP, MyHSR Corp is also evaluating the bids following the closure of a tender for the services of reference design consultants (RDC) for the Malaysian stretch, which was parcelled out in six packages.
"The RDCs will look at the respective stations and alignments to optimise them all, though it will be more from the civil engineering perspective.
"The decision will likely be made by the first quarter of next year," said Mr Mohd Nur.
On the future HSR stations, he added that these would be built at new areas that must not be too far from existing business and population centres.
"They cannot be too far from population centres, or else the time savings from HSR will be negated by the longer travel time for the last mile.
"At the same time, the stations need to be big enough to cater to the expected and future ridership, and have ample space for development around them.
"We have to balance between these factors."
On calls by some parties to set up a HSR stop within Selangor, Mr Mohd Nur said the Putrajaya station was located at the edge of the Selangor border, and development arising from it would definitely spill into the state.
The final alignment must allow a non-stop journey from Bandar Malaysia to Jurong East to be completed within 90 minutes.
The domestic service that stops at every station is expected to cover the same distance in slightly more than two hours.