Malaysia, Singapore to Ink New Pact on High-Speed Rail Project

The agreement is to be signed during Leader’s Retreat next month.

Malaysia, Singapore to Ink New Pact on High-Speed Rail Project
Credit: @LeeHsienLoong

Malaysia and Singapore are set to sign a legally-binding bilateral agreement for the development of a high-speed rail between the neighboring Southeast Asian states, The New Straits Times reported Monday.

The 300-kilometer long Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High Speed Rail (HSR) project was first unveiled in February 2013 by Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak and his Singapore counterpart Lee Hsien Loong during their annual talks at the Malaysia-Singapore Leaders’ Retreat.

The HSR, with terminus stations in Kuala Lumpur’s Bandar Malaysia and Singapore’s Jurong East, has been seen as a major marker in the development of bilateral ties and is expected to dramatically improve connectivity between both sides once it is completed in 2026, with travel time being cut down to just 90 minutes (See: “Malaysia, Singapore Move to Next Phase of High Speed Rail Project”).

Both sides had inked a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on July 19, though the two leaders at the time stressed that much hard work remained to be done.

On Monday, The New Straits Times reported that the two countries would take another key step by inking a legally binding bilateral agreement next month when both leaders meet for this year’s Leader’s Retreat. The pact, which is pending cabinet approval, will reportedly touch on detailed cost- and revenue-sharing aspects of the project.

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The report quoted Mohamad Nur Ismal Mohamed Kamal, the chief executive officer of MyHSR Corporation, the government-owned company responsible for the development and promotion of the project, as saying that a bilateral committee to manage and regulate various aspects of the project would be formed after the signing.

Following the report, Singapore’s Ministry of Transport also said in a statement on Monday that Singapore and Malaysia “are working towards signing the bilateral agreement”. No further details were provided.

The HSR project is expected to be on the agenda when Najib meets his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe later this week during his visit to Tokyo (“Japan to Give Malaysia 2 Large Vessels During Najib Visit”). Japan is one of several countries, along with China and South Korea, which is competing to help build the HSR project.