KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian company managing the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High-Speed Rail (HSR) project announced on Friday (Jun 28) that it has appointed technical and commercial consultants to review proposed design changes and identify options to cut cost.
In a statement, MyHSR Corp said that Malaysian engineering and project management firm, Minconsult and Ernst & Young have been appointed the Technical Advisory Consultant (TAC) and Commercial Advisory Consultant (CAC) respectively.
“MyHSR Corp and its TAC and CAC will now proceed to review the proposed changes to the KL-Singapore HSR Project and further identify cost reduction options for the government of Malaysia,” said the statement.
The TAC will look into proposed infrastructure design changes within Malaysia, such as the alignment, stations and train maintenance facilities.
The CAC will focus on the commercial aspects, such as developing new business models, identifying funding and financing options and updating the ridership forecast, among other issues.
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 among several mega projects approved by the previous Malaysian government that have come under review, as the Pakatan Harapan administration relooks the country's finances.
Last September, Singapore and Malaysia formally agreed to postpone the construction of the HSR until end-May 2020, with Malaysia having to pay Singapore S$15 million for costs incurred in suspending the project.
During the suspension period, both countries would “continue to discuss the best way forward for the HSR project with the aim of reducing costs", according to a joint statement issued at that time.
In January, the Malaysian government said it has remitted to Singapore the "abortive costs" incurred for the postponement.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said during a leaders’ retreat in April that Singapore continues to see the HSR as a “good project that strengthens links between our economies and our peoples”.
Mr Lee said Singapore understands why Malaysia needs time to review the cost and alternative options. He added that Singapore looks forward to receiving Malaysia’s proposals early and working with them to find a way that works for both countries.
READ: Singapore, Malaysia affirm commitment to cooperative and forward-looking bilateral relationship
On Friday, MyHSR Corp’s chief executive officer Mohd Nur Ismal Mohamed Kamal said the appointment of the TAC and CAC was a major step in the effort to develop an affordable HSR project.
“The solution will be a holistic one, and respects the needs of the government of Singapore, cognisant of the market expectation of the project sustainability and bankability, and without compromising on service reliability, journey time and safety,” he said.