KUALA LUMPUR: THE Kuala Lumpur-Singapore high-speed rail (HSR) project will have massive economic spillover benefits beyond Malaysia’s shores when it is linked to the 5,000km Pan-Asian HSR that connects Kunming in China to Singapore.
The Kuala Lumpur-Singapore HSR link, when completed by 2022, will spur new opportunities in logistics, port and property development.
Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said beyond Malaysia and Singapore, the Singapore-Kunming railway line would improve connectivity, benefiting multiple economies along the link.
China is building the Pan-Asian HSR to connect the country with Myanmar, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore.
“The Kuala Lumpur-Singapore and the Singapore-Kunming lines will bear fruit under the One Belt, One Road initiative by China. It will also improve connectivity between Malaysia, China and the world,” said Liow when opening the China High Speed Railway exhibition, here, yesterday.
One Belt, One Road is a framework mooted by China’s President Xi Jinping in 2013 to increase connectivity and foster cooperation among countries along the route. It has two components — the land-based “Silk Road Economic Belt” (SREB) and the ocean-going “Maritime Silk Road”.
The Pan-Asian HSR is the Southeast Asian portion of the SREB. It comprises east, middle and west lines, which all start from Kunming and run, respectively, through
Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar and merging in Bangkok, Thailand.
The railway network will enable trains to travel at up to 200kph and eventually pass through Kuala Lumpur and stop in Singapore.
The Kuala Lumpur-Singapore HSR line, meanwhile, is one of the government’s Entry Point Projects to improve the economic dynamism of Kuala Lumpur and its livability rankings relative to other global cities.
The benefits of the network are numerous — reducing travel time to Singapore (from four or five hours to just 90 minutes), easing traffic congestion on roads and improving connectivity, among others. The current daily traffic congestion between Singapore and Kuala Lumpur is acute and traffic far exceeds the capacity of the Causeway and Second Link.
Creating value around HSR stations will be the hallmark of the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore rail project, with plans to build new townships, integrated property developments, affordable housing, education facilities and technology parks.
There will be six stations along the route — at Bandar Malaysia, Seremban, Ayer Keroh, Muar, Batu Pahat and Nusajaya, along with the Jurong East terminus in Singapore.
Meanwhile, according to Liow, the Request for Information (RFI) exercise for the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore HSR project had been completed and was undergoing data analysis.
Malaysia’s Public Land Transport Commission and Singapore’s Land Transport Authority had called for a joint RFI for the project and received 98 submissions.
The companies and consortia came from across the HSR value chain and included parties based in Malaysia, Singapore and other Asia-Pacific countries, as well as Europe, the Middle East and North America.
“We are summarising the RFI and once we are able to complete discussions with Singapore, we will call for an open tender,” said Liow.
Business Times reported recently that works on the HSR project might start in early 2018 at a likely cost of RM65 billion. This was based on the current estimated HSR cost per km for systems and tracks of US$10 million (RM42.6 million).
This means for a total length of 350km, systems and track works could cost RM15 billion. The civil infrastructure cost is about three times more than the systems and track works, and that could amount to RM45 billion.
For the total 350km, it is estimated that there should be at least 60 four-car train sets, with 30 sets each to serve the express and transit services.
The cost to purchase the 60 train sets would be about RM5 billion.
These are current estimates for the HSR project based on today’s market price for raw materials and the value of the ringgit versus the US dollar.
Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Razali Ibrahim had said the HSR was expected to contribute RM100 billion to Malaysia’s gross domestic product.
Meanwhile, the China High Speed Railway exhibition, which ends on Tuesday, is organised by China Railway, China Investment Corp, Changchun Railway Vehicles Co Ltd, CRSC and the Export-Import Bank of China.
State-owned China Railway, which will be awarded a contract to build the Gemas-Johor Baru electrified double-tracking project (EDTP), is also eyeing the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore HSR project.
China Railway chief engineer He Huawu said by year-end, China would be operating more than 19,000km of HSR lines, or more than 60 per cent of the world’s total.
By end-2020, the rapid passenger traffic network of the country — composed of HSR and other railway lines — would hit 50,000km, connecting almost all cities.
“China serves the longest mileage and the most advanced of HSR structures in the world,” said He.
China had built at least 34 lines of the HSR globally, which covered 160 cities, with more than 3,000 electric multiple unit in a daily operation and more than three million passengers.