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Malaysia and Singapore today signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to facilitate the KL-Singapore high-speed rail (HSR) project, with a legally-binding bilateral agreement set to follow by the end of this year, Channel News Asia reports. The signing of the MoU, which took place in Putrajaya, was witnessed by prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak and his Singaporean counterpart, Lee Hsien Loong.

Construction of the high-speed rail link is set to begin in 2018, with completion in 2025. This will be followed by field testing and commissioning, with operations scheduled to begin sometime in 2026. Each country will be responsible for the development, construction and maintainance of the civil infrastructure and stations within their own domain, in this case through MyHSR Corporation for Malaysia and the Land Transport Authority for Singapore.

Both governments said they will build and fund infrastructure works such as viaducts, tunnels and stations within their territories. The two countries also agreed to form a bilateral committee comprising representatives from both sides to manage and regulate aspects of the project.

kl-singapore hsr mou

Two companies will be appointed to run the HSR service, which is expected to run 10 car-long trains, with the capacity for up to 100 passengers per car. Separately, another private company will design, build, finance and maintain the trains as well as rail assets, and will also be responsible for the allocation and control of track access. As for depots and maintenance facilities, these are set to be located in Malaysia, the report adds.

The 350 km-long double-track route (335 km of which is in Malaysia, and 15 km in Singapore) will have eight stops in total – Singapore, Iskandar Puteri, Batu Pahat, Muar, Ayer Keroh, Seremban, Putrajaya and Kuala Lumpur.

With trains on the service projected to run at average speeds of 300 km/h, the HSR is set to bring down the rail travel time between KL and Singapore to 90 minutes, excluding clearance at customs, immigration and quarantine, but there are plans to co-locate checkpoints in Singapore, KL and Iskandar Puteri to facilitate “seamless travel,” the report adds.