Hitachi Super Express

The race to win the bid for the KL-Singapore High Speed Rail (HSR) project is ramping up, with more jockeying coming about – now, a report indicates that the Chinese may be a step ahead of its competition given that it owns a significant stake in Bandar Malaysia, which is slated to be a hub in the HSR service.

China Railway Engineering Corp (CREC) and its Malaysian partner, Iskandar Waterfront Holdings, collectively owns 60% of Bandar Malaysia Sdn Bhd, the project owner of the 486-acre Bandar Malaysia, and though CREC has brushed off talk of the ‘advantage’ of its stake in Bandar Malaysia, the state-owned company isn’t denying that it is keen to be the developer of the rail service, The Star reports.

“Yes, the group is a reputable HSR developer from design to construction. We could provide end to end solution for HSR in Malaysia as what we are doing in the recently announced US$5bil Jakarta-Bandung HSR,” CREC project director Cai Zemin said. According to another news report, another advantage may be there in the form of entrenchment, as China already supplies more than 80% of the rolling stocks for rail use in the country.

Korea HSR-1

China and Japan are going head to head in attempting to embed a stronger industrial and political foothold in the region through their HSR projects. Although Japan lost to China in securing the Indonesia HSR project, it managed to win the rights to develop the US$15bil Mumbai-Ahmedabad HSR in India.

While the parties have been maintaining a civil front, the behind-the-scenes talk is apparently less friendly – a Japanese official was reported to have contended that China has no proper business plan for the Jakarta-Bandung line and was making promises it cannot keep, with the reportedly uncompleted Northrail project in Manila being used as an example.

Meanwhile, China is proud of a cheaper cost of building HSR systems, claiming it had not lost to Japan in the Mumbai-Ahmedabad HSR project as there was no open tender, the report added.

Korea HSR-2

Not to be discounted is South Korea, which signalled its intent with the opening of a 157 sq m showroom in Nu Sentral, KL to highlight its HSR prowess. The South Korean government has organised a consortium that will work on the bid for the project, and this will include the Korea Railroad Corp, Korea Land & Housing Corp, Korea Rail Network Authority (KRNA), top construction companies of South Korea and South Korean maker of HSR trains Hyundai Rotem Company.

According to KRNA chairman and chief executive officer Kang Yeong Il, the unified bid for the KL-Singapore HSR is the first time both rail-related South Korea government agencies and private corporations have formed a consortium on such a large scale. “We are well prepared to cover all aspects of the HSR development here, from construction, operation, rolling-stock, financing, signalling system to development of new townships along the line,” Kang said.

All the interested parties participated in the recent request for information exercise conducted by the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD).