SINGAPORE: The Cross-Border Railways Bill was passed in Parliament on Monday (Mar 19) on its third reading.
The Bill will govern within Singapore two upcoming rail links - namely the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High Speed Rail (HSR) which is expected to start passenger service in 2026 and the Rapid Transit System (RTS) connecting Woodlands in Singapore to Bukit Chagar in Johor Bahru, which is expected to be operational in 2024.
It also puts in place the regulatory framework to ensure safe and secure cross-border railway operations, including the licensing of operators to run train services and maintain railway assets.
The Bill was referred to a Select Committee on its second reading in November last year.
Speaking during the third reading of the Bill on Monday, Second Transport Minister Ng Chee Meng said the Select Committee received five written representations. They contained relevant queries and feedback relating to the Bill’s provisions.
To support the commercial viability of the two projects, the committee proposed amendments to two clauses in the Bill which "will allow transfer or assignment of contracts with the Minister for Transport’s approval".
"It strikes a balance between Government oversight and commercial viability," Mr Ng said.
The original intent of the two clauses was to prevent the railway assets operator and the cross-border train service operator from transferring or assigning their contracts to another unappointed party, he said.
"However, based on industry feedback, as well as written representations received, we noted that such clauses may deter private financiers from lending to the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High Speed Rail Assets Company, or AssetsCo, for which the tender is ongoing. This is because the future cash flows under the AssetsCo contract cannot be used as collateral," he added.