SINGAPORE: The agreement by Malaysia and Singapore on Wednesday (Sep 3) to postpone construction of the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High-Speed Rail provides greater clarity over the project, Singapore's Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan said.
The much-anticipated project has been postponed until the end of May 2020, with the express service between KL and Singapore to begin by Jan 1, 2031, instead of Dec 31 2026 as originally planned.
Malaysia will pay Singapore S$15 million for costs incurred in suspending the project.
The new agreement was signed by Malaysia's Economic Affairs Minister Azmin Ali and Mr Khaw at the Prime Minister's Office in Putrajaya.
“Many will be disappointed by the delay, but at least there is now greater clarity on the way forward for this mega project,” said Mr Khaw in a Facebook post.
Singapore Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean, who had witnessed the signing, said that the agreement bodes well for future cooperation between Singapore and Malaysia.
“Min Khaw Boon Wan and Min Azmin Ali worked hard to reach an outcome which meets the interests of both countries. This bodes well for future cooperation between our countries,” said Mr Teo in a Facebook post.
The proposed 350km-long 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.
It is one of the several projects approved by the previous Malaysian government that are now being reviewed following the Pakatan Harapan's historic victory in the May general election.
Shortly after leading the coalition to victory, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad declared his intention to cancel the HSR project, saying it would cost "a huge sum of money" and was not beneficial to Malaysia.
He later said in July that his government would look to negotiate a deferment of the HSR instead, to reduce any burden of compensation.