Jul 21, 2016

Malaysia to call High-Speed Rail tender within a year



Alor Setar: Malaysia’s transport minister Liow Tiong Lai said the tender for the High-Speed Rail (HSR) project which will link Kuala Lumpur and Singapore will be called within a year, reported Malaysian media on Saturday (Jul 16).

According to the Star Online, the minister told reporters at an event yesterday that he was looking forward to the signing of the memorandum on Tuesday.
“Once the signing is done, the authorities will prepare the tender documents. The tender will be called within a year’s time.

“Many international companies have shown interest in the project and we welcome that. This is a very important and prestigious project because it is the first in Asean,” the Star quoted him as saying.

Liow added that the project would bring economic development to Malaysia and Singapore.

Plans for the HSR were first announced in 2013 by Prime Ministers from both countries at a leaders’ retreat, with the Singapore terminus located at Jurong East and the Kuala Lumpur one at the upcoming Bandar Malaysia project. The proposed 350km-long line will take 90 minutes to traverse.

There will be two tracks with stops at stations in Malaysia such as Seremban, Ayer Keroh, Muar, Batu Pahat and Iskandar Puteri.
High-Speed Rail to significantly boost Malaysia’s economy: Analysts

The High-Speed Rail (HSR) line between Singapore and Malaysia is expected to give Malaysia’s economy a significant boost, said analysts ahead of the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Tuesday (Jul 19).

Estimated to cost around US$15 billion, the 350km double track railway project will have a direct service from Bandar Malaysia terminal in Kuala Lumpur to Jurong East in Singapore.

Fui Soong, CEO for the Centre of Strategic Engagement (CENSE) has equated the HSR to the North-South highway which had transformed and spurred economic development across peninsular Malaysia in the 1980s and 1990s.

She said the improved connectivity is expected to attract multinational companies to relocate to Kuala Lumpur or any of the five stops in between.

It will also enhance property values, boost tourism and encourage foreign direct investment, she added.

“In the last decade, we haven’t seen a huge mega project. This is something that will help the Malaysian economy, especially since we are seeing a slowdown and the oil prices muted. This will be a fiscal boost.”

For Prime Minister Najib Razak, getting the HSR off the ground has great significance for his political career, said Ms Fui Soong.

“This is an important legacy for him. In the last eight years or so, we have seen a lot of political upheavals, a lot of energy spent recapturing the hearts and minds of the people. Something like the HSR … will boost people’s confidence, as well as enhance the Prime Minister’s administration and his ability to deliver economic growth,” she said.

The MOU is the first formal step for the project which analysts said would not have been possible without a strong and deepening bilateral relationship between the two countries.

Keith Leong, who is the head of research at KRA Group, said: “It’s a sign of how ties really have improved between two countries compared to the previous decade when bilateral ties were static. It shows progress.”

However, the quality of the investment still “remains to be seen”, said Member of Parliament for the Klang constituency, Mr Charles Santiago.

“This mammoth project with its huge outlay will no doubt generate a huge multiplier effect,” he said to Channel NewsAsia. “But will there be know-how and technology transfer? Will employment be generated?”

The HSR has already attracted interest from the Far East. Japan Rail, Korail and China Railway have embarked on aggressive marketing campaigns to showcase their own HSR technologies.

The project is seen as an important milestone for bilateral relations and will be the first in Southeast Asia when it is expected to be completed in 2026.