Singapore, KL 'working towards' inking high-speed rail pact on Dec 5

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his Malaysian counterpart Najib Razak observe the signing of the High Speed Rail memorandum of understanding on July 19, 2016. PHOTO: ST FILE

Singapore and Malaysia are "working towards" signing an agreement on the High Speed Rail (HSR) project, which will link Singapore and Kuala Lumpur, at the Leaders' Retreat on Dec 5, a Transport Ministry spokesman said yesterday.

This followed a report in the Malaysian daily, the New Straits Times (NST), that the signing will be witnessed by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his Malaysian counterpart Najib Razak at their annual retreat, which will be held in Johor next month.

The Transport Ministry spokesman here had no further details.

But the NST quoted Mr Mohamad Nur Ismal Mohamed Kamal, chief executive officer of MyHSR Corporation, as saying that a bilateral committee to manage and regulate various aspects of the project would be formed after the signing.

The committee would provide regulatory oversight for the HSR, including on technical, commercial and security aspects.

Both sides are also expected to decide on whether to build a tunnel or bridge across the Johor Strait to link the rail lines in the two countries.

The NST reported that a draft agreement is pending Malaysian Cabinet approval and said the pact will touch on detailed cost- and revenue-sharing aspects of the project.

A memorandum of understanding for the HSR project was signed in July this year by Coordinating Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan and Malaysia's Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Abdul Rahman Dahlan. It was witnessed by the two prime ministers.

Conceived in 2013, the 350km rail project - 15km of which will be in Singapore - is expected to begin construction in 2018 and start operating in 2026. The HSR, with a top speed of more than 300kmh, is expected to cut travel time between Singapore and Kuala Lumpur to 90 minutes, compared to the current four- to five-hour road journey.

Besides the Singapore-KL express service, the line will also have a domestic service within Malaysia, stopping at Iskandar Puteri, Batu Pahat, Muar, Ayer Keroh, Seremban and Putrajaya.

There will also be a shuttle service between Singapore and Iskandar Puteri in Johor.

The Singapore terminus will be at the upcoming Jurong Lake District.

Customs, immigration and quarantine facilities for the railway will be co-located at three stops - Singapore, Iskandar Puteri and KL.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 15, 2016, with the headline Singapore, KL 'working towards' inking high-speed rail pact on Dec 5. Subscribe