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Joint tender for high-speed rail project could be awarded by end of 2018: MyHSR chief

Mohd Nur Ismal Kamal, CEO of MyHSR also confirmed that the joint tender for the system will open in the fourth quarter of next year.

KUALA LUMPUR: The head of the Malaysian company tasked with developing the high-speed rail project between Malaysia and Singapore on Thursday (Dec 8) said the two countries are expected to make a decision on who to award the rail system to by the end of 2018.

Mohd Nur Ismal Kamal, CEO of MyHSR also confirmed that the joint tender for the system will open in the fourth quarter of next year.

"They have to go through the actual alignment and prepare their tender submissions. So we open in the fourth quarter next year, give them one year to submit, (and) from there we do our evaluation."

Malaysia and Singapore signed a memorandum of understanding on the project in July.

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak has said a formal bilateral agreement will be signed next week during the leaders' retreat with Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

The agreement is expected to reveal details on the cost and profit-sharing structures of the multi-billion-dollar project.

Slated to be ready by 2026, the 350km rail link will significantly cut travel time between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore to just 90 minutes.

Since the project was first announced more than three years ago, it has attracted tremendous interest from companies from China, Japan and South Korea.

China was in October awarded the RM55 billion East Coast Rail Line project, but Mohd Azharuddin Mat Sah, CEO of Malaysia's Land Public Transport Commission, said that this doesn't mean that it is better stead than others to win the KL-Singapore contract. 

Said Mohd Azharuddin Mat Sah, CEO of Malaysia's Land Public Transport Commission: "We're looking at various parameters, not just the costing – reliability, sustainability, value, and together with Singapore, we want to ensure we select the best submission, from other countries - not just Asian countries but it could be Europe as well. We are very open to that."

On the viability of the project, Mr Mohd Azharuddin insists that, given that Kuala Lumpur has a population of 7 million and Singapore, more than 5 million, operators should not have a problem growing ridership by offering attractive fares.

He said ticket pricing will not be regulated but will be benchmarked against the cheapest air tickets available.