PUTRAJAYA: Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said on Tuesday (Dec 17) that Malaysia is on board for the postponed Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High-Speed Rail (HSR) project, but the speed of the trains might be adjusted to cut costs.
"It will go ahead, but we will have to find out what is the most suitable speed that we should have," Dr Mahathir said in response to questions from reporters at a signing ceremony for transit-oriented project Bandar Malaysia.
"It's not necessary for it to be 400kmh, because if it travels at 400km, it might reach Alor Setar.
"So we will look into what is most suitable for this project."
The proposed 350km-long HSR line aims to reduce travel time between Singapore and Kuala Lumpur to around 90 minutes, 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.
READ: Malaysian company managing High-Speed Rail project appoints consultants to review design, cut cost
Malaysia would like to spend less money on the project, said Dr Mahathir on Tuesday.
"We would like to spend less money; it's very expensive, this high-speed rail," he said. "But maybe we can scale down or do some adjustments in order to reduce the cost, and maybe less speed will contribute towards the reduction of the cost."
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.
In January, the Malaysian government said it had remitted to Singapore the "abortive costs" incurred for the postponement.
A few months later in June, the Malaysian company managing the project said it had appointed technical and commercial consultants to review proposed design changes and identify options to cut cost.