SINGAPORE: Most travellers have welcomed the new high—speed rail link between Singapore and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
They say it offers an additional option while making travel plans within the region — be it for business or leisure.
Anos Enrado, a tourist, said: "This is nice because it makes Asian countries more connected and it’s much faster travelling to other countries."
Alan Liew said: "Depending on the operation timing, they can leave on the morning train and then come back on the last train back to Singapore. So it saves one night hotel accommodation."
Industry players, however, say fares on the 90—minute high—speed rail link will determine the impact on coaches and airlines.
The Express Bus Agencies Association says the development may have a "tremendous impact", but coach operators will still have some edge.
Sebastian Yap, Terminal Services Sub—Committee, Express Bus Agencies Association, said: "To me the high—speed train cannot be cheaper than bus, there’s no way about it. So in terms of the pricing, I think we still have a bit of a competitive edge."
Still, coach operators may have to re—strategise to include complimenting the rail service, by offering services to smaller towns from the stations along the rail line.
Travellers say they do not mind paying more for speed and predictability which comes with the rail link.
"It is more secure and more safety. And the timing will be more fixed."
"I’m expecting about S$80 to S$90 per trip — per one way trip."
"I will take the train because (for) flying you need to check in and check out. I think the time will take a much longer time than the train."
Observers say airlines offering flights between the two cities will also see more competition — more so for full service carriers than budget airlines.
Siva Govindasamy, Managing Editor of Flightglobal Asia, said: "If this high—speed rail system offers a premium proposition for these business people who need to get from Kuala Lumpur to Singapore comfortably and very fast, then I think its the full service carriers who could have a bigger impact, because the leisure passengers are still price sensitive.
"The budget airlines cater to these leisure passengers, so they might not have an impact. We do not know what the aviation industry is going to look like in seven years from now. Budget carriers may refine their models, it may be cheaper for them to offer certain flights. New technologies may come into play, airports may get more efficient."