Terminated HSR undertaking a skipped opportunity to raise financial competitiveness for Singapore, KL: Authorities

Catrina P. Smith

SINGAPORE: The prepare was to hook up Singapore and Kuala Lumpur – two metropolitan towns in Southeast Asia – by a high-velocity rail, revving the two economies and propelling each individual to develop into a formidable drive in the location.  

However, this was not to be following the KL-Singapore Higher-Pace Rail (HSR) challenge was terminated on New Year’s Day after the agreement to build it lapsed on Dec 31, 2020.

Malaysia allowed the HSR bilateral agreement to lapse on the deadline following both sides could not concur to modifications it experienced proposed.

The HSR line had aimed to decrease travel time between Singapore and Kuala Lumpur to around 90 minutes by practice, from the existing 11 hrs on current train providers.

Browse: From conception to termination – Timeline of KL-Singapore HSR task over 8 yrs

Professionals interviewed by CNA reported the discontinuation of the project was a skipped prospect to strengthen connectivity in between Singapore and Kuala Lumpur, a shift which could have transformed their economic competitiveness in the area.

Singapore University of Social Sciences’ affiliate professor of economics Walter Theseira claimed: “The standard issue of the HSR was to boost the financial competitiveness of Singapore and Malaysia. Neither economies are specially big, so the two sides stood to profit from the agglomeration of the financial system (the HSR would have brought).”

He described that a HSR between Singapore and Kuala Lumpur would have introduced about more economic progress and advancement, similar to how Japan benefited from connecting its key towns by Shinkansen.

“Singapore and Kuala Lumpur are not sizeable in likely as opposed to towns like Jakarta, Bangkok, or even existing worldwide centres like Tokyo, New York and London and so on. These sites benefit from possessing a substantially larger sized town economy, greater obtain to expertise. The HSR would have enhanced this,” additional Assoc Prof Theseira.

Dr Francis Hutchinson, who sales opportunities the Malaysia programme at the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute, defined that the HSR venture could have linked two massive metropolitan areas with rather big populations – some 8 million in Larger KL and 6 million in Singapore.

He mentioned that the Singapore-KL air route continues to be a single of the most heavily transited in the world, showcasing a “real demand” for journey companies among the two cities.

“Shortening the travel time (among Singapore and KL) to 90 minutes as opposed to four to five hours would have improved effectiveness and productivity, specially for business enterprise travellers. This would also unleash demand for supplemental visits involving the two centres,” additional Dr Hutchinson.


Examining how Singapore would be impacted by HSR termination, transport researcher Terence Fan from the Singapore Administration University said the most important issue would be how the undertaking would have facilitated movement of human capital and travellers.

Dr Fan highlighted that without having HSR, advantages of extra efficient travel concerning Singapore and Kuala Lumpur would not have materialised, and this would have impacted organization journey in individual. 

Assoc Prof Theseira claimed the HSR would have granted organizations from Singapore extra access to Malaysia’s economic climate.

He said a significant speed rail process would have fared improved than the current choices this sort of as air or land journey, as there would be fewer delays in customs and journey time. Hence, it would be less complicated for Singapore corporations to expand their business achieve in the course of the towns together the rail line. 

“With the HSR, it suggests that specialist solutions in Singapore can send out staff to KL for tasks and come back on the exact same day,” he explained.

“For regional businesses, they would have felt snug acquiring headquarters in Singapore, or KL, and have workers in the other region. These issues would have been significantly far more possible with HSR,” additional Assoc Prof Theseira.

Read through: Assets business removal ‘main concern’ that led to HSR termination, task has expense Singapore far more than S$270 million, claims Ong Ye Kung

JURONG Improvement Ideas Established TO Carry on

He also pointed out that strategies by the Singapore federal government to establish the Jurong area will probably press ahead, even although the region would no more time host the HSR project’s southern terminus.

“Many of the strategies to build Jurong are not contingent on HSR. HSR would have been a great bonus, but I do not imagine there will be a selection to significantly downgrade these options,” explained Assoc Prof Theseira. 

HSR Jurong East terminus

The terminus station was established to be constructed in Jurong East, and would have been accessible by 4 MRT strains. 

Talking in Parliament on Monday (Jan 4), Singapore Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung mentioned the termination of the HSR venture will not influence in general programs for the Jurong Lake District. 

He stated that the Singapore Government had started off scheduling to transform Jurong as early as 2008, and the designs ended up made right before Malaysia proposed the HSR task. 

Nevertheless, Assoc Prof Theseira maintained that there would be some worth for Singapore to not rush into redesignating land use in Jurong, and to wait around and see if the Malaysia authorities might come to a decision to go forward with the challenge domestically. 

Jurong Lake1

Extending environmentally friendly and blue assets into the combined-use small business location all over the long term HSR terminus. (Artist’s perception © KCAP/SAA/Arup/S333/Lekker)

In December, there experienced been reports that Putrajaya could carry on the undertaking without the need of Singapore’s involvement. That’s why, the line – which begins in Kuala Lumpur – could stop in Johor in Malaysia alternatively of Jurong East in Singapore. 

Assoc Prof Theseira maintains that Singapore could adopt a “wait and see” tactic and come to a decision later on on if it wishes to sign up for if Malaysia does begin building. 

Even so, if in the future it is determined that the strategies to build HSR are scrapped completely, he stated that the Singapore Federal government could then make your mind up how to redevelop the internet sites in Jurong. 


Meanwhile, the termination of the HSR job is also a skipped option for the design sector in Malaysia, as properly as citizens who stay in towns alongside the HSR line. 

Mr Peck Boon Before long, an economist at RHB Investigation Institute in Malaysia, told CNA that the HSR would have essential about 335km of tracks in Malaysia, tunnels, bridges and other infrastructure and that nearby construction organizations would have benefitted from it. 

“During this period of time exactly where construction for household and professional qualities are sluggish, the HSR would have been a bonus for civil engineering providers and companies,” mentioned Mr Peck. 


A map of the most well-liked alignment of the KL-Singapore High-Speed Rail.

Dr Hutchinson extra that building function would also have associated coach stations at smaller sized urban metropolitan areas these as Iskandar Puteri, Muar, Batu Pahat and Seremban. 

“In all of these scenarios, there were being bold urban progress options that planned to reorient the commercial everyday living, specifically of the smaller sized metropolitan areas, which would property industrial and residential dwellings in and all over the stations,” he included. 

Additionally, citizens from these cities have also been impacted as the HSR would have enabled them to do day outings from their households and Kuala Lumpur or Singapore, Dr Hutchinson said. 

“This would truly be a video game-changer for sectors this sort of as larger education, as universities in the two nations would be ready to cater to a wider vary of learners,” he included. 

Reports that Malaysia will now look at heading in advance with the job without having Singapore’s participation has drawn criticism from numerous get-togethers, which includes former Malaysian key minister Najib Razak. 


The MOU signing ceremony was witnessed by Key Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his then Malaysian counterpart Najib Razak. (Image: Justin Ong) 

Najib’s administration was the very first to present the idea of a KL-Singapore HSR in 2013, and he later on oversaw the signing of the bilateral settlement with Singapore in 2016. 

In a Facebook post previous Saturday, Najib pressured that Malaysia is set to get rid of billions of ringgit by terminating the HSR job.

He warned that Singapore’s exclusion from a high-speed rail line will make the project unsustainable, explaining that making the HSR was justified as the advantages from an increase in visitors from Singapore would bring billions in profits as perfectly as create work opportunities for the persons that will previous for a extended time.

Mr Peck made a related point, noting that if the HSR was to exclude Singapore, it would lessen the tourism pounds the venture could in all probability carry in. 

“Holidaymakers from Singapore are place off by the congestion at the Causeway and the inconvenience of air journey. The HSR eliminates this, and would have greater the selection of visitors browsing Malaysia from not only Singapore, but also global holidaymakers who want to check out Malaysia following halting by Singapore,” he additional. 

“The HSR being terminated is absolutely … a missed prospect to broaden Malaysia’s tourism network,” stated Mr Peck. 

Read through: Malaysia expects compensation for HSR project’s termination to be below S$270 million, states Mustapa Mohamed

RTS Connection Undertaking NOT A Replacement FOR HSR 

Despite the fact that the HSR has been terminated, an additional rail project among both equally nations –  the Immediate Transit Procedure (RTS) Url undertaking – will go in advance and is set to begin passenger services by close-2026. Will this assist mitigate the downsides of terminating the HSR venture?

The RTS Hyperlink connects Bukit Chagar in Johor Bahru to Woodlands in Singapore, serving about 10,000 travellers for every hour each and every way to assist relieve website traffic congestion on the Causeway.

RTS Link Woodlands North station and CIQ building

Artist’s effect of RTS Backlink Woodlands North station and CIQ setting up. (Photograph: Land Transportation Authority)

Speaking in Parliament on Monday, Mr Ong, Singapore’s Transport Minister, said that the RTS Website link project was “progressing well”.

“The Johor Bahru facet has damaged ground. On our aspect, we will break ground soon and we hope the task and the company can begin in 2026 as scheduled,” he additional.

Dr Hutchinson advised CNA that the RTS would be advantageous in phrases of relieving the demand from customers on current connections involving the two nations around the world.

“So, owning the RTS, which is slated to shift 10,000 people each way per hour, is valuable for journey and connectivity. The rewards of this relationship are that it would be punctual, and not issue to exterior situations these types of as congestion on the Causeway,” mentioned Dr Hutchinson. 

“The need to have for this type of relationship can be noticed in the ongoing demand from customers for the Woodlands-JB Sentral rail backlink, which is favoured by folks needing to get to 1 side or the other on a specific timetable,” he additional.

Even so, he pointed out that the RTS Url would be “less helpful” for business travellers that require to commute effectively in between KL and Singapore. 

Johor Baru-Singapore Rapid Transit System Link (RTS) map (Infographic: Rafa Estrada)

Assoc Prof Theseira concurred, pointing out how the RTS would perform for individuals commuting involving Singapore and Johor Bahru, but not for these seeking to vacation to KL. 

“(The RTS) is largely to relieve day by day commuting (at the Causeway) and I do not assume most Singaporeans would use the RTS as portion of a url to get to Kuala Lumpur,” he mentioned. 

“Very few Singaporeans would use the RTS to hook up to JB right before switching about to the KTM rail to vacation to Kuala Lumpur. You can do that, but (getting into thing to consider) the sum of time, its not competitive for business vacation as compared to flying,” Assoc Prof Theseira extra. 

Previously this week, Putrajaya mentioned it was eager on the HSR task, but the COVID-19 pandemic has compelled it to re-assess the scenario.  

There has been talk that the Malaysia government is searching to upgrade the existing nationwide Keretapi Tanah Melayu (KTM) railway community which runs from Johor Bahru to Kuala Lumpur and further north.

RHB’s Mr Peck observed that the Malaysian authorities is thinking about this possibility since the combined fees of setting up the RTS and upgrading the KTM is not as costly as constructing the HSR. 

“Travelling from Johor Bahru to Penang for instance through the upgraded KTM service may not be as practical for commuters as as opposed to HSR. But the variation in charges to acquire these two programs are significant for the government,” he added. 

The pace the KTM service is projected to function on is around 160km for every hour, which pales in comparison with the HSR. 

Assoc Prof Theseira opined that the maximize in pace for KTM will not be adequate for travellers, specially those people who commute for company causes, to take into consideration the RTS and KTM a critical choice to air vacation. 

“I don’t see how (driving the RTS and switching to KTM) would be competitive as compared to traveling. The HSR was meant to be a outstanding substitute to traveling,” added Assoc Prof Theseira. 

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