Bill introduced to support two future Singapore-Malaysia rail links

Generic photo of the Jurong area that will undergo vast developments over the next decade for the high-speed rail that will connect Singapore to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Generic photo of the Jurong area that will undergo vast developments over the next decade for the high-speed rail that will connect Singapore to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

A proposed law to support the building and running of two future rail links between Singapore and Malaysia was introduced in Parliament yesterday.

The Cross-Border Railways Bill will provide for the licensing of operators to run train services and maintain railway assets; the appointment of independent safety auditors; and funding for the projects' construction, among various clauses.

It will also empower the Government to suspend cross-border train services if there are imminent risks to commuter safety, such as a malfunction or terrorist act.

A Singapore Transport Ministry spokesman yesterday said the Bill will support the "construction, operation and regulation" of the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High-Speed Rail (HSR), in accordance with a bilateral agreement signed last December.

The 350km HSR, which will cut travel time between the two cities to 90 minutes, is targeted to be operational by the end of 2026.

The Bill will also support the Johor Baru-Singapore Rapid Transit System (RTS) Link after Singapore and Malaysia ink a bilateral agreement at the end of this year, the spokesman added. The RTS, which will link Woodlands North station on the upcoming Thomson-East Coast MRT Line with Johor's Bukit Chagar terminus, is expected to be ready by the end of 2024.

The proposed law also spells out the penalties if train service or railway asset operators fail to comply with the licensing requirements. They can be fined up to $1 million, or 10 per cent of their annual revenue received in the last completed financial year.

The introduction of the Bill comes amid key developments in both cross-border rail projects.

Last month, rail operators SMRT and Prasarana Malaysia signed a memorandum of understanding to form a joint venture company for the cross-border RTS Link. This operating company will build, finance and run operating assets like trains, tracks and systems.

Singapore and Malaysia will also call a joint tender later in the year to appoint an asset company for the HSR project.

The appointed company will be responsible for designing, building, financing and maintaining all rolling stock. It will also build, operate and maintain rail assets, including track-work, power and signalling systems.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 04, 2017, with the headline 'Bill introduced to support two future S'pore-Malaysia rail links'. Print Edition | Subscribe