Timeline of events for terminated KL-Singapore HSR project

Artist’s impression of the High Speed Rail station in Bandar Malaysia for the terminated project.
Artist’s impression of the High Speed Rail station in Bandar Malaysia for the terminated project.PHOTO: EDELMAN

SINGAPORE - In 2013, Singapore and Malaysia had agreed to build a 350km High Speed Rail (HSR) line between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore, which would have cut travelling time to 90 minutes compared to over four hours by car.

On Friday (Jan 1), both countries announced in a joint statement that the HSR has been terminated, after both countries failed to reach an agreement on changes proposed by Malaysia by the deadline of Dec 31.

Singapore's Ministry of Transport said in a separate statement that Malaysia had allowed the HSR bilateral agreement to be terminated, and has to compensate Singapore for costs already incurred, in accordance with the agreement.

Here is a timeline of key milestones in the now-defunct project.

Feb 19, 2013: Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and then-Malaysian PM Najib Razak agree to build a high-speed rail link between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore after meeting at the Singapore-Malaysia Leaders' Retreat in Singapore.

Oct 9, 2015: Singapore and Malaysia jointly launch a request for information for the High-Speed Rail (HSR) project.

July 19, 2016: PM Lee and Mr Najib witness the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding for the HSR.

Dec 13, 2016: Singapore and Malaysia sign a legally-binding bilateral agreement to build the new rail line, with a target to have trains running by Dec 31, 2026. The HSR is hailed as a "marquee project".

Dec 20, 2017: Singapore and Malaysia call an international joint tender for an Assets Company that will be responsible for designing, building, financing and maintaining all rolling stock as well as rail assets for the HSR.

May 28, 2018: New Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, whose coalition defeated Mr Najib's in the May elections, says the country has made "a final decision" to drop plans for the HSR. He says the project would cost Malaysia RM110 billion (S$36.2 billion) and will not earn it a single cent.

June 11, 2018: Tun Dr Mahathir backtracks on his earlier comments, and says the HSR is temporarily shelved due to its high costs.

Sept 5, 2018: Malaysia and Singapore sign an agreement to postpone work on the HSR for about two years, up to May 31, 2020. The HSR is now expected to commence by Jan 1, 2031. Under the deal, Malaysia agrees to reimburse Singapore $15 million by end-January 2019 for abortive costs incurred by the deferment of the mega project. The deferment also sees both sides call off the ongoing international joint tender for the assets company.

May 31, 2020: Singapore agrees to further suspend the HSR project for seven more months till the end of the year. Then-Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan says the Republic agreed to Malaysia's request in the spirit of bilateral cooperation.

Nov 26, 2020: The Ministry of Transport said Malaysia has proposed changes to the HSR, and Singapore has been discussing them in good faith.

Dec 2, 2020: PM Lee and new Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin discuss the project via video conference.

Jan 1, 2021: The HSR project is terminated, after both countries failed to reach an agreement on changes proposed by Malaysia by the deadline of Dec 31.