Sharidan M. Ali
PETALING JAYA: The proposed Kuala Lumpur-Singapore high-speed rail link has gained support owing to its potential to boost growth and there are also concern the project could burden the Government with financially.
A transport consultant has come out in support of the proposed high-speed rail link between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore saying such a service would be a boost to growth ambitions of Malaysia.
But others cautioned about the cost of such a project on government finances, pointing out that the mass rapid transit (MRT) project for Greater Kuala Lumpur and the extension of the light-rail transit (LRT) project is estimated to cost a staggering RM57bil.
Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) recently said that the Government was conducting a feasibility study on the rail project. The proposal was cited as a high-impact project under the Economic Transformation Programme.
It was reported that the cost of the KL-Singapore high-speed rail was between RM8bil and RM14bil.
Frost & Sullivan vice-president, Asia Pacific transportation & logistics practice and country head, Malaysia Gopal R said the KL-Singapore link was a critical and landmark link that needed to be established through high-speed rail.
“This is a cross-border link that has already been leveraged by different other modes of transport like air and road.
“With the next decade attributable to the growth of the services sector, a high-speed rail connectivity can greatly help organisations to leverage on Greater KL to establish larger offices with competent workforce that can commute most effectively in markets like Singapore.
“In effect, Greater KL will transform into a service sector hub with this model, if high-speed rail connectivity is available towards the north and southern directions, creating a sustainable economic profile for the city,” Gopal told StarBiz.
A transport analyst with a local research house said although there was a need to establish KL-Singapore high-speed rail, the high cost of such a project remained a concern.
“This is because we already got two huge rail projects in hand the MRT system that is estimated to cost RM50bil and extension of the two LRT systems that would cost RM7bil.
“Alternatively, the Government could rely on the private sector to fund the project.
“But, the proposal is still under study. If it is proven viable, I think it would only kick-off in 2012 because the project involves cross-border link,” he said.
On the timing of the high-speed project, taking into consideration that countries globally are still recovering from the economic crisis, Gopal said the economic activity in Malaysia as well as the region was on the rise and the momentum would surely continue into the immediate future. “Therefore, the timing is just right to embark on high-speed rail projects,” he said.
Gopal added that almost all high-speed rail networks had been promoted as a tourist experience and consequently been a must see attraction cities such as in Shanghai, Taipei and Tokyo.
“The connectivity options in any mega city has certainly influenced property values due to the ability of residents to save time in commuting,” he said.
SPAD said it was currently conducting a feasibility study on a high-speed rail link between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore, which is expected it to be completed in May.
“The study will look into the viability, business case, benefits and the possible implementation plan of the project,” it said.
On the types of systems for high-speed rail, it was reported that there were basically two main systems namely, magnetic levitation technology and conventional rail network.
This article was first published by The Star on 10 March 2011.