The international tender to supply trains for the Singapore-Kuala Lumpur high-speed rail (HSR) could be called by the fourth quarter of next year, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said on Wednesday (Nov 16).
Mr Najib, who had earlier held talks with his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe in Tokyo, said most issues relating to the project had been “more or less” resolved, reported Malaysia’s New Straits Times (NST).
Speaking at a press conference with Mr Abe, Mr Najib also confirmed reports that Malaysia and Singapore are on track to sign the agreement to develop the HSR by early next month.
This will pave the way for construction to start in 2018, and the HSR is targeted to begin operations by 2026.
Mr Najib said he and Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong would witness the signing.
“There are several milestones in the implementation of this project but the most significant would be the international bidding process, which according to our plan, will be issued in the fourth quarter of 2017,” said Mr Najib, who is on a three-day working visit to Japan.
“I have reassured Prime Minister Abe that the process to arrive at the final decision (on the contract) would be done in an open, transparent and objective manner,” he added.
During the press conference, Mr Abe made a strong pitch for the Malaysian and Singapore governments to consider using the Japanese Shinkansen bullet train system, the NST said.
“We had a very good discussion on the high-speed railway programme between Malaysia and Singapore, and I expressed strong expectation regarding the adoption of Japan’s bullet train technology,” Mr Abe said.
On Monday, Singapore’s Transport Ministry said that the two countries “are working towards signing the bilateral agreement on the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore high-speed rail at the next leaders’ retreat on Dec 5, 2016”. The retreat will be held in Johor Baru.
The rail project was first announced in 2013 by Mr Lee and Mr Najib. The proposed 350km double-track HSR will slash travel time between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore to 90 minutes, with terminus stations in Bandar Malaysia and Jurong East.