Leaders of Singapore, Malaysia hold talks on HSR project; announcement on further details to be ‘made in due course’

SINGAPORE: Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Malaysia’s Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin spoke on the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High-Speed Rail (HSR) project, in view of the Dec 31, 2020 deadline for the second and final extension of the suspension of construction.

Both Prime Ministers’ offices said in a joint statement on Wednesday (Dec 2) that further details on the project would be made “in due course”.

The two leaders “took stock of the progress of discussions” during a video conference, and had “gained a good understanding of Malaysia’s and Singapore’s respective positions”.

Mr Lee and Mr Muhyiddin also reaffirmed the strong bilateral relations between the two countries covering many areas of cooperation and the sincere desire to further strengthen these relations for mutual benefit.

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In November, the Malaysian government said it intended to proceed with the HSR project given the “positive multiplier effect” on the economy.

This had followed the announcement in September 2018 by Singapore and Malaysia to postpone the construction of the HSR until end-May this year. Malaysia had to pay Singapore S$15 million for costs incurred in suspending the project.

Malaysia later requested a further seven-month extension to allow both sides to discuss and assess Malaysia’s proposed changes to the project.

Mr Khaw Boon Wan, who was then Singapore’s Transport Minister, agreed to the “final extension of the suspension period” until Dec 31. 

Both countries had also announced that the HSR service would be expected to start by Jan 1, 2031, instead of the original commencement date of Dec 31, 2026, as a result of that suspension.

The proposed HSR line aims to reduce travel time between Singapore and Kuala Lumpur to around 90 minutes by train, from the current 11 hours on existing train services.

When operational, the line will offer an express service between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore, a domestic service from Kuala Lumpur to Iskandar Puteri and a shuttle service from Iskandar Puteri to Jurong East.