Hitachi Super Express

Even as the draft alignment is being finalised for the KL-Singapore high-speed rail (HSR), questions are being raised about the project, concerning anticipated fares and its viability. At a state assembly sitting in Johor yesterday, the issue of the projected Passenger Flow Volume (PFV) and ticket prices were brought up, The Sun reports

It had previously been reported that the estimated annual PFV of the HSR will be around 18 million passengers. The DAP assemblyman for Stulang, Andrew Chen Kah Eng, said this number was low and questioned how much could be charged for a per-trip ticket with such a low volume.

He cited the ticket prices of three other HSR projects – which all cover about 300 km in distance – in other countries as a reference. Among these were the Shanghai to Nanjing HSR, which has an annual PFV is about 105 million passengers and costs RM150 per trip, and the Taipei to Tainan HSR, which has an annual PFV of 50 million. A ticket for this is around RM180.

MyHSR

Chen said that pricing of the KL-Singapore HSR will be an important parameter for its success. “If we charge too low, the operator will be in trouble. If we charge too high, we will face a passenger problem,” he said.

Last year, it was reported that ticket prices for a one-way trip between KL and Singapore could cost commuters less than RM200, with return trip tickets to be under RM400, in order to accommodate all market segments, including business and leisure travellers.

“We foresee a much lower average price to make the HSR project feasible. Although the return on investment will take a longer time, the operator will have several options to recoup its investment in the project,” MyHSR CEO Mohd Nur Ismal Kamal had said then. The proposed pricing structure is also expected to mirror that of an airline system, where a surge/drop in demand for tickets will affect the overall fare on a daily basis.

HSR stations proposed

Malaysia will soon be finalising the draft alignment for the project, and this will be done before the memorandum of understanding is signed by both Malaysia and Singapore in July. Proposed transit points in the draft alignment include Seremban, Ayer Keroh, Muar, Batu Pahat and Iskandar Puteri.

The race to be the one to build the line has intensified between China, Japan and South Korea in recent months. The HSR, when ready, is expected to cut travel time between KL and Singapore down to 90 minutes, with trains on the service projected to run at average speeds of 350 to 450 km/h.

It will also have direct links to the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA), Changi Airport in Singapore and the proposed Pan Asean Rail Transit to Bangkok.