KUALA LUMPUR: Japan is making an "all-out bid" for the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore high-speed rail (HSR) contract to construct Southeast Asia’s largest-ever infrastructure project.
In an interview with Bernama, Japan's ambassador to Malaysia, Makio Miyagawa, said: “We will be offering our best suited technologies to Malaysians and Singaporeans, as well as full-fledged training for the officials, operators and engineers of both countries so that they can start the operations by themselves from day one."
Citing Japan's expertise with the Shinkansen, Miyagawa said the Japanese package would be "truly holistic".
He added that the transfer of technology and local vendor development will also greatly benefit both Malaysian and Singaporean companies, including small and medium enterprises.
“Japan would also like to offer the most comprehensive financial package which would certainly help the two nations to reduce as much of their financial burden as possible in introducing this system,” Miyagawa said in the interview.
Second Finance Minister Johari Abdul Ghani was reported to have said that the project, which will have eight stations, would cost around RM50 billion (US$12.5 billion) to RM60 billion.
Bids for the HSR, described as a game-changing joint-venture between Malaysia and Singapore, must be submitted by the middle of this year, with the contract expected to be awarded by year-end.
Other bidders for the project may include companies from China, South Korea and France.
The 350km HSR is intended to cut travel time between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore to 90 minutes and stimulate the economy of several localities along the route.
Operations are projected to start around 2026.
Malaysia’s MyHSR Corporation Sdn Bhd and Singapore’s HSR Private Ltd announced on Dec 20 last year that they would start accepting bids for a railway “assets company” which will be responsible for designing, building, financing, operating and maintaining all rail assets.
"READY TO COLLABORATE WITH LOCAL INDUSTRIES"
Miyagawa said Japan had already been offering technology, human capital and financial resources to enable its companies to collaborate with companies in Malaysia and Singapore.
“In the high-speed rail system, our government and private sector would be ready and are very keen to collaborate with the local industries in Malaysia and Singapore so that the gradual transfer of technology and human capital will succeed and will help newly-introducing technology nations like Malaysia and Singapore to operate the system right from the start,” he said.
“The connectivity will increase and along the alignment many cities will flourish. And that is why we are very happy to participate in this project,” he added.
Miyagawa believes that Japan has an edge over other bidders, given its track record.
“Japan invented the bullet train technology," he pointed out. "The advantage of the Shinkansen is that it has been operated for almost 50 years without any fatal accident or human capital problems.
"This is the merit of the system which is based upon the superiority of the hardware as well as the excellence of the software operations based upon the accumulated know-how of the engineers and operators in Japan.”