KL-S'pore high-speed rail link to get SPAD boost
By Sharen Kaur
2020 COMPLETION TARGET: Feasibility study in final stage of preparation, says its CEO
THE Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) will speed up the process of kick-starting the multi-billion ringgit high-speed rail (HSR) link between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore and ensure it is operational by 2020.
Its chief executive officer Mohd Nur Ismal Mohamed Kamal said the feasibility study is in its final stage of preparation.
SPAD has been carrying out a study on the HSR project since early last year.
The study includes a detailed assessment on the technical and engineering aspects, cost, financial and operations, and benefits of the project.
The project was agreed in principle between Malaysia and Singapore in February this year.
Business Times has reported, quoting reliable government sources, that the rail link is expected to cost around RM40 billion. This includes RM10 billion to buy high-speed bullet trains.
For Malaysia, the HSR project is important to support growth in Iskandar Malaysia in Johor.
Investor interest in Iskandar Malaysia is at an all-time high with the completion of key catalytic projects last year and the signing of a new agreement between Malaysia and Singapore this year.
Singapore is one of the largest investors and leading contributors to Iskandar Malaysia.
The HSR project will also complement another rail project - the Rapid Transit System Link - that will link Johor Baru to Singapore's Thomson Line, which is set to be ready by 2019.
Singapore, however, has yet to give its full feedback on the HSR link to the government.
Business Times reported last week that Malaysia may call for an international open tender for the HSR link by the end of this year, indicating that the 400km project is viable.
There will be mandatory requirements in the tender procurement that companies must meet before they can make a bid.
These include having a few years of expertise in running high-speed trains and operating railway lines, the transfer of technology, the type of systems used and costs.
However, Mohd Nur Ismal said that the tender call will commence once the relevant agreements with Singapore are in place.
"We are working very hard to ensure that the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore railway link is operational by 2020.
"The government will identify the best mechanism for project tender and according to existing procedures and guidelines," he said.