Singapore and Malaysia in talks over High-Speed Rail project

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Singapore and Malaysia are holding discussions over the High-speed rail project that has been delayed twice before already and has a deadline on December 31st when officials will have to have come to a final decision on the status of the project as reported by a spokesman from the Singapore Ministry of Transport. The original 350km rail project was to run from a terminal station in downtown Kuala Lumpur, Bandar Malaysia, cross the Strait of Johor near the Second Link, and stop at a terminal in Jurong East. The high-speed rail was projected to have several other stations in between, in Seremban (Negri Sembilan), Ayer Keroh (Melaka), and three Johor stops in Pagoh, Ayer Itam, and Iskandar Puteri.

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If Malaysia were to complete the HSR on its own, the project would cost approximately US$21.4 billion, excluding the trains. According to a source, it has been reported that the Malaysian government will pay Singapore just under US$105 million as compensation if it opts to proceed with the project on its own. The sum is less than half of the US$250 million reported last month by the Free Malaysia Today news site that Singapore would seek as the price to drop the deal.

The original project was first announced in 2010 and was projected as being able to cut the travel time between KL and Singapore to 90 minutes, compared to the more than four hours it would take to travel by car.  Both Malaysia and Singapore signed the bilateral agreement, a legally binding international pact, in Putrajaya in December 2016, witnessed by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and then Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak. The original target was to have the trains running by Dec 31, 2026. The new targeted completion date for the HSR was in 2029.

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