PUTRAJAYA (July 19): The governments of Malaysia and Singapore expects to call for an international tender next month to find a joint development partner to provide technical support to both countries on the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore high-speed rail (HSR) project.
Both governments, which signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to work on firming up a legally binding bilateral agreement for the project today, are eyeing for the HSR to be operational by 2026.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak asserted that with the HSR gaining interest from corporations the world over, the tender process will be conducted in the most transparent manner.
"It is incumbent on us (Malaysia and Singapore's governments) to be most transparent to maintain the countries' integrity and reputation," he said.
After the MoU was signed, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong admitted that the plan to complete the cross-border HSR within 10 years is "an ambitious target", but doable nonetheless if both countries fully commit to the project.
"Imagine, it took our (Singapore's) MRT (mass rapid transit) more than 12 years in all to be completed. The HSR, what more with it involving two countries, is a really ambitious undertaking with a 10-year timeline," he said.
According to a statement, both Malaysia and Singapore agreed to form a bilateral committee with representatives from both governments to manage and regulate aspects of the HSR project which might impact the cross-border services.
A joint project team consisting of representatives from MyHSR Corp Sdn Bhd and Singapore's Land Transport Authority (LTA) will be formed to coordinate the joint aspects of planning and development works before the HSR operations commences. The joint project team will also be the one calling for the international tender next month.
Najib said the HSR will create multiplier effects to both Malaysia and Singapore, with the governments expecting 30,000 jobs to be created.
"This will not just benefit the major cities, but it will change the smaller towns in between," he said, before naming Seremban, Batu Pahat, and Muar as some of the potential beneficiaries.
The HSR will have eight stations — a terminus each in Bandar Malaysia and Singapore, and six intermediate stations in Putrajaya, Seremban, Ayer Keroh, Muar, Batu Pahat and Iskandar Puteri.