Malaysia axes planned KL-Singapore HS rail link

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This topic contains 4 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by  CS KOK 29 May 2018
at 12:01

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  • Alex McWhirter

    At a time when new rail infrastructure is fashionable worldwide Malaysia has scrapped its much publicised plans for the KL-Singapore link in a bid to save money.

    Although there is currently a rail link between the two cities it is both narrow-gauge and slow.

    The new rail line, about which Business Traveller has previously reported, would be high-speed only.

    And in preparation for the new HS line the Singaporeans closed down their historic (but little-known by tourists) station in downtown Singapore.

    The air link is one of the world’s busiest international air links and can only get busier in years to come hence the rail link would have freed up space both for airways and the airport runways.

    Kuala Lumpur-Singapore now world’s busiest international route

    Alex McWhirter

    Malayan Railways has responded this afternoon:

    “We have a double-tracking and electrification scheme for the [existing] Gemas-Johor Bahru [domestic rail line] to complete in 2022.”

    “This will allow 140 kph trains to operate between KL and Johor Bahru in less than four hours.”

    “HSR [high-speed rail] is kind of a luxury at the moment. We think HSR will definitely be revisited sometime in the future … it’s just that with the current fiscal standing of the country it’s something we need to do without.”


    Unfortunate they don’t go ahead with the HSR on the busiest route ‘though maybe the domestic 140kph will suffice awhile?
    UK could do with such wisdom since HS1,2,etc. is billions on infrasture best spent on the faltering NHS, police and defence of the realm.

    Alex McWhirter

    Building a new HS rail lines can take years.

    Even the upgrade of the existing line (which is narrow-gauge and not the best for fast trains) won’t be complete until 2022 (maybe even later as rail works tend to overrun).

    In the meantime Singapore has now lost its convenient downtown train station – see link above.

    My personal view is that a new 300 kph HS line would cope with the huge growth in air travel over this relatively short route.

    I am sure airlines and both airports would welcome a new and much faster rail line. It would free up aircraft and runway space for more lucrative use.

    That is what we see in Europe. Schiphol now wants short-haul travellers to take the train (rather than the plane) in order to increase runway capacity for long-haul services.

    Thalys to link Amsterdam Schiphol with Paris CDG

    CS KOK

    The problem with this proposed HSR is the astronomical cost (RM 110 billion = USD 27.5 billion). It is believed that the previous prime minister built in a huge kickback to cover the 1MDB debts. By comparison another HSR built by another Chinese company between Budapest and Belgrade costs less than USD 3 billion. It has also been touted as an “investment” by the previous government when in fact it is financed by a loan from the Chinese govt

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