‘Singapore-Malaysia railway system to proceed’

The Malaysian government is set to proceed with the construction of a high-speed railway system that will link to Singapore, but this time, with project cost lowered markedly.

At a news conference at the Bangunan Sultan Iskandar Customs, Immigration and Quarantine Complex, Malaysian Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad said that construction of the project will now cost RM3.16 billion, or 36 percent less than the RM4.93 billion original cost.

“We will build the Rapid Transit System … that has already been decided,” Dr Mahathir said. “We will go ahead with that project.”

Singapore’s transport ministry welcomed Malaysia’s decision, saying that both countries are now in discussions over the proposed changes to the project including cutting expenditures at the request of the Malaysian government.

Malaysian Transport Minister Anthony Loke said at a separate news briefing that one important feature for the railway system is the involvement of the Sultan of Johor, owner of the land at Bukit Chagar, to help finance and enable the project through waiving the land cost.

In a statement, Putraya said that waiving the cost of the land will result in significant savings for both countries.

Putrajaya gave its green light for the project on October 18, taking into account changes to project structure, scope, as well as specifications.

Loke said he expects the revised project to be officially signed early next year.

The Malaysian government submitted its official proposal to Singapore and will wait for the latter to review the project before it gets finalized.

Loke explained that Malaysia’s proposal will reduce construction costs and result in affordable fares for commuters.

The railway system will still serve up to 10,000 passengers per hour. It will be a system similar to the Light Rail Transit in Kuala Lumpur.

For its part, Singapore’s transport ministry said it would take some time to look into the project as changes to the original proposal would require amendments to the agreement.

“Both sides are working hard on this,” it said.

In May, Singapore and Malaysia agreed to suspend the construction of the rail link until September 30 at the request of the Malaysian government.

As part of the agreement, Malaysia agreed to reimburse Singapore worth SGD600,000 for the abortive costs incurred due to the suspension. During the suspension period, Malaysia looked skeptical on whether to proceed with the project.

On September 29, both parties have agreed to extend the deadline for an additional month, until October 31, 2019.

PHOTO COURTESY: LTA