It appears the KL-Singapore high-speed rail (HSR) project will not be cancelled but instead be postponed for the future. This was revealed by prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad during an interview with Nikkei Asian Review recently.

“There will be a need for high-speed rail in the future, probably right through the peninsula. But we cannot afford it at this moment. So we actually postponed the implementation of that project. High-speed trains are most effective where the distance is very long. But where the distance is short, it doesn’t contribute much. So we need to rethink high-speed rail,” said Mahathir.

In late May this year, Mahathir told Financial Times that the HSR project would be dropped entirely in an effort to “do away with some of the unnecessary projects” in order to reduce government expenditure.

Signed in December 2016, the HSR was planned as a 350 km-long double-track route (335 km of which was supposed to be in Malaysia, and 15 km in Singapore) with eight stops in total – Singapore, Iskandar Puteri, Batu Pahat, Muar, Ayer Keroh, Seremban, Putrajaya and Kuala Lumpur. A bridge over the Straits of Johor – with a height clearance of 25 metres – would have linked the line between both countries.

Trains on the service were expected to run 10 car-long trains, with the capacity for up to 100 passengers per car. These trains were projected to run at average speeds of 300 km/h and bring down the rail travel time between KL and Singapore to 90 minutes.

“We cannot say we will never have high-speed rail in Malaysia. What we can do is we can postpone the project because it is far too costly at this moment,” added Mahathir.