The KL-S'pore High-Speed Rail: The final stop?

Covid-19's impact on travel demand will ease over time. The bigger question hanging over the project is Malaysian politics.

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The long-awaited start of the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High-Speed Rail (HSR) has been postponed again. All infrastructure projects are prone to delays, but a decade after the Malaysian government first mentioned the HSR in its 2010 Economic Transformation Programme, the target date of January 2031 is looking more unlikely by the day.

Over the past years, both governments have invested considerable economic and political capital in the ambitious cross-border link. The HSR received backing by Singapore and Malaysia in 2013, at that year's Leaders' Retreat. Subsequently, decisions were made on the end points in each nation, as well as cross-border arrangements on customs and immigration facilities. With this preparatory work done, the two countries signed a legally binding agreement in December 2016. In 2017, land acquisition started, contracts were awarded for project design and supervisory work, and the tender process for the rail assets launched. Construction was slated to kick off in 2018, with completion scheduled for end-2026.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 06, 2020, with the headline The KL-S'pore High-Speed Rail: The final stop?. Subscribe