Malaysia-Singapore High-speed Rail Link

Malaysia and Singapore have agreed to build a high-speed rail link between the city state and Kuala lumpur. The link will cut travelling time between the two destinations to just 90 minutes, from the hours it now takes by rail and road.The two countries also agreed on a rapid transit system linking Singapore's Mass Rapid Transit system with Johor Baru.Both Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and his counterpart Lee Hsien Loong described the speed-link project as a “game changer” .


“This project will change the way we do business, look at each other and interact,” said Najib. “We hope to meet the 2020 deadline for the project,” he told a joint press conference after the annual leaders retreat here. The two mass “people mover” projects are part of multi-billion ringgit business deals between the two countries. These include a wellness project at Nusajaya in Johor and a mixed development project between Iskandar Waterfront Holdings Sdn Bhd and the Singapore Government investment arm Temasek in Danga Bay worth RM8.1bil.


Najib said the high-speed rail link would be built via public-private partnership with strong government participation. “It will be on the basis of private sector funding with the government providing structural support and participation.” Lee said the project would make it faster to travel between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore by rail than by air, including waiting time. He recalled that Najib mooted the idea of the link at a meeting some months ago and he felt that it was a good idea.


On the rapid transit system, Lee said the two countries had 12 months to decide on whether to build a bridge or an undersea tunnel between the two countries. Later the two leaders unveiled the Marina One project, which is in the heart of Singapore's new central business district undertaken by M+S Pte Ltd, a company owned 60:40 by Khazanah Holdings Bhd and Temasek.


They were also updated on the integrated development DUO joint venture. The two projects have a gross development value of S$11bil (RM26.4bil).The leaders lauded the excellent progress in relations between the two countries since the Points of Agreement was settled in 2010.In a three page statement, they agreed to intensify existing cooperation and explore new ways to leverage on the complementarities between Singapore and Iskandar, just across the island republic.


They agreed among others to look into the feasibility of a third road link between the two countries in the long term, and establishing new ferry terminal and Customs, Immigration and Quarantine facilities at Puteri Harbour in Johor this year. Nusajaya in Iskandar Malaysia has been earmarked as one of the three stop stations in Johor for the proposed high-speed rail (HSR) linking Kuala Lumpur and Singapore.Iskandar Regional Development Authority chief executive officer Datuk Ismail Ibrahim said as a green-field area, Nusajaya would definitely be a better choice for the stop station.Ismail said several issues had to be looked into in the development of the HSR, including land acquisition and the relocation of residents affected by the project.


“The type of users of the service will be what finally determines the terminals or the stop stations for the system from KL to Singapore,'' he told StarBiz. On Wednesday, Transport Minister Datuk Seri Kong Cho Ha said five towns in the country had been earmarked as “stop stations” in the initial plan for the HSR; Seremban, Ayer Keroh, Muar, Batu Pahat and Iskandar Malaysia.


Malaysia and Singapore had on Tuesday jointly announced their agreement to build the HSR between the republic and Kuala Lumpur, expected to be completed by 2020.The proposed project will cut travel time between the two capitals to just 90 minutes from the five hours of driving and seven hours by rail at present.“Nusajaya, spanning 9,712.45 ha, is a good location for the stop station as opposed to the existing JB Sentral KTM station here which is facing space constraints,'' said Ismail.


He said the Nusajaya terminal would be connected to Kempas Baru, which had been designated as an integrated public transportation hub for Iskandar Malaysia.Ismail said it would have all modes of transportation connecting to different flagship development zones in Iskandar Malaysia, with taxis, rapid bus transits and intra-city commuter train services for commuters. On the Malaysia-Singapore Rapid Transit System (RTS) link, he said both countries did not have to wait for the one-year cycle to make a decision on the project.


“We are giving ourselves ample time on the project. If both governments find the study is good, then it can start anytime,'' Ismail said, adding that there would be two options for the RTS project linking Johor Baru and Singapore for the trains to either run above ground (grate) or via undersea tunnel.


He said the first option could be a causeway (a land bridge), while the second option could either be a low bridge or a high bridge. A low bridge is anything below 15 metres in height, which is impassable by boats, while a high bridge is more than 35 metres or equivalent to a seven-storey building that would allow a liner to pass through.


Ismail said if the undersea tunnel were chosen for the project, then there would also be a choice of it being either a sunken tunnel or a bore tunnel. He said the undersea tunnel was a more favourable option as it would cause minimal disruption to traffic movements during the construction period, as the project would be located nearby the Customs, Immigration and Quarantine (CIQ) complexes of Malaysia and Singapore. “However, the final outcome on the type of link to be built will all depend on the recommendations of the study for the two governments involved as well as costing,' he elaborated.


Ismail said it did not matter what the final choice was, but the main objective of the RTS was to improve connectivity and accessibility between Johor Baru and Singapore. The terminating stations of the link would be at the former site of the Tanjung Puteri Lorry Custom Complex here and in the vicinity of the Republic Polytechnic in Singapore. The RTS link is targeted to be up and operating by 2018 and have a co-located (CIQ) facility in Singapore and a co-located CIQ facility here so that commuters need to clear immigration only once for each way of travel.The Johor Causeway, which is about 1.06 km long, was completed in 1932 and links Johor Baru to Woodlands on the other side of the Straits of Johor.About 80,000 to 100,000 vehicles use it daily.Johor and Singapore are also connected via the Second Link, a dual three-lane carriageway linking Tanjung Kupang to Tuas in Singapore. The bridge is about 1.9 km long.