Some of Malaysia and Singapore’s previously shelved rail projects may be given a new lease of life or resume progress as more optimistic news seem to be on the horizon, a Malaysia minister announced.
Malaysian transport minister Anthony Loke was quoted as saying at the Women in Rail Malaysia Conference on Monday (July 8) that “good news” pertaining to the Rapid Transit System (RTS) would likely come before the end of September but did not elaborate on the details.
The Malaysia and Singapore governments had earlier agreed to further negotiate the project to reduce its initial estimated RM4 billion (US$966 million) cost.
The planned RTS comprises a 4km line connecting Woodlands North station on Singapore’s upcoming Thomson-East Coast Line to Bukit Chagar in Johor Bahru that will have the capacity to ferry 10,000 passengers per hour.
According to The Star, Loke said the Government is looking to revive the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High Speed Rail (HSR) project as well, which was to put on hold until May next year after a postponement agreement was signed between the two countries in September 2018.
He also announced the relaunch of the formerly suspended East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) project which will be inaugurated on July 25, The Star reported, adding that Malaysian companies would be taking on as much as 40 per cent of the project’s civil works in an effort to play a larger role.
The project was halted a year ago for several months due to a renegotiation of the terms of its construction but was allowed to resume in April this year after Malaysian Rail Link Sdn Bhd and China Communications Construction Company Ltd signed a supplementary agreement in Beijing.
As part of the agreement, the project’s initial RM66 billion development cost was slashed to RM44 billion but the line had to be shortened by 40km from the original 688km.
In addition to linking the whole rail network with ports to facilitate industrialisation along the railway corridor, Loke said the project could potentially boost the nation’s economy while improving connectivity.
He added that the administration has set its sights on reviving the development of a national skills centre to provide training specific to the rail transport sector, similar to the National Rail Centre of Excellence proposed by the former Barisan Nasional-led government.
“We are looking at setting up a Centre of Excellence for the entire country. It will be more efficient, more sustainable, and more impactful,” Loke was quoted by The Star as saying.
He noted that the centre would be beneficial to “players around the region” and its first phase is planned to begin next year.
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