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KL - SG High-Speed Rail Set For 2026, But Delays In Similar Projects Make Us Think Otherwise

Tuesday saw the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between KL and Singapore. This means that both countries have agreed on how the new High-Speed Rail (HSR, aka bullet train) project will be carried out.

Singapore Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong said on his Facebook page that “if all goes well, we can take a train to KL in just 90 mins in 2026!”

HSR On Track?

After this MoU, KL and Singapore will sign a bilateral agreement “by the end of the year” before any major construction takes place. Otherwise, the train tracks wouldn’t be able to link cross-border, defeating the purpose of the project.

The idea of a 90-minute train ride sounds amazing; I have a colleague whose family is in KL, so I can imagine how much easier it would be for him to work cross-border.

ho ching hsien loong
Image Credit: Ho Ching

When questioned on how the train tender process will go, Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said, “When we evaluate the tenders, the evaluation has to be objective, fair, transparent so that when we make a decision, we are quite sure we get best value and the best choice for the project. And it’s something both sides will be working closely together on.”

Sounds like this is one project Singapore wants to see through no matter what.

I’m sure you’ve seen many unfinished construction projects littering the path from Singapore to KL. Former Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) state director Datuk Bahri Mohamad Zin was quoted in The Star in back in April 2014, that corruption in the construction industry is at a “serious level.”

All work aside, the bullet train will also make tourism much more convenient. Areas between KL and Singapore such as “Muar, Johor and Seremban,” said Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, “will see a new impetus in terms of their economic development.”

Generally Positive Sentiments Worrying

Image Credit:tsunagujapan.com
A Shinkansen bullet train in Japan. Image Credit:tsunagujapan.com

Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan and Foreign Affairs Minister Vivian Balakrishnan expressed their generally positive comments on the signing on the MoU.

Mr Khaw called for a time to “pause and celebrate”, while Mr Balakrishnan said he’ll be “Looking forward to making the 90-minute journey to KL once the High Speed Rail is completed. I can still recall taking the old KTM train with my parents for the overnight journey from Singapore to KL”

What’s worrying is the politics without the funds to back it. Singapore – Malaysia relations is a bridge over troubled waters in more ways than one. From water problems to the occasional territorial dispute, cooperation isn’t the strongest suit between the two countries. Although there has been commitment in terms of politics, in this world, money talks.

I’m looking forward to the tender process rather than the signings to tell is the HSR project is going smoothly. With the fanfare of being able to have a “90-minute journey” due to the HSR, it does pay to be cautious.

Other huge railway projects like the Haramain HSR, Hong Kong’s Express Rail Link and even a 119-mile California HSR project has faced numerous delays and we should expect the same.

Here’s hoping that everything runs smoothly. -Vulcan Post

Feature Image Credit: Justin Ong/CNA

 

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