Singapore open to fresh KL-SG High-Speed Rail (HSR) proposal, as Malaysian PM suggests revival of talks

Singapore open to fresh KL-SG High-Speed Rail (HSR) proposal, as Malaysian PM suggests revival of talks

After it was cancelled for good on January 1 this year, we’re surprised to see the KL-Singapore High-Speed Rail (HSR) project pop up in the news again, but here it is.

Prime minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob crossed the Causeway this morning for an official visit to Singapore, and he has suggested reviving discussions on the HSR to his Singaporean counterpart Lee Hsien Loong. This is according to Bernama, quoting Lee.

“Prime Minister (Ismail Sabri) suggested reviving discussions on the HSR. I responded to the PM that Singapore and Malaysia had previously reached an agreement to terminate the HSR project, and this had been amicably settled and closed.

Singapore open to fresh KL-SG High-Speed Rail (HSR) proposal, as Malaysian PM suggests revival of talks

“Nevertheless, Singapore is open to fresh proposals from Malaysia on the HSR project, and the two ministries of transport will discuss the matter. Singapore looks forward to receiving more details from Malaysia so that we can study them and consider the matter again starting from a clean slate,” Lee said during a joint press conference with Ismail Sabri today, in conjunction with the launch of the land Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) between the two countries.

Here’s a recap of the terminated project. Back in December 2016, Malaysia and Singapore signed a bilateral agreement to facilitate the project, which was supposed to have begun construction in 2018 and completed in 2025, with operations slated to begin in 2026.

In September 2018, at the request of Malaysia, both governments agreed to postpone the project until May 31, 2020 to allow for the identification of cost reduction options, including reviewing and optimising the alignment, station locations and the business model. The deferment resulted in Malaysia paying S$15 million (around RM45.1 million at the time) as compensation for the abortive costs incurred by Singapore. The payment was made at the end of January 2019.

Singapore open to fresh KL-SG High-Speed Rail (HSR) proposal, as Malaysian PM suggests revival of talks

In May 2020, the deferment was again extended to December 31. The decision to cancel the project will incur cost for the country. Previously, it was reported that Malaysia would have to reimburse Singapore for the project implementation costs incurred by the latter up to the point of suspension.

The HSR project was called off on January 1, 2021, after Singapore could not agree to Malaysia’s proposed changes.

“Both governments had conducted several discussions with regard to these changes and had not been able to reach an agreement. Therefore, the HSR agreement had lapsed on December 31, 2020. Both countries will abide by their respective obligations, and will now proceed with the necessary actions, resulting from this termination of the HSR agreement,” read a joint statement by then Malaysian PM Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and Lee.

Singapore open to fresh KL-SG High-Speed Rail (HSR) proposal, as Malaysian PM suggests revival of talks

In March, Malaysia announced that it had paid S$102.8 million (RM318 million) to Singapore for costs incurred for the development of the HSR project and in relation to the extension of its suspension.

The HSR was originally 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.

The service was projected to run 10 car-long trains – with the capacity for up to 100 passengers per car – at average speeds of 300 km/h, which would bring the rail travel time between KL and Singapore down to 90 minutes, excluding clearance at customs, immigration and quarantine.

Three years ago, a much cheaper alternative to the HSR was mooted, and this proposed an upgrade to existing rail infrastructure instead of the HSR’s approach of building a new line from scratch. This more affordable alternative – with a slightly longer 130-minute travel time – was then estimated to cost the Malaysian government RM20 billion, a far lower sum than the HSR’s estimated cost of between RM60 billion to RM70 billion.

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Danny Tan

Danny Tan loves driving as much as he loves a certain herbal meat soup, and sweet engine music as much as drum beats. He has been in the auto industry since 2006, previously filling the pages of two motoring magazines before joining this website. Enjoys detailing the experience more than the technical details.



  • Anonymous on Nov 29, 2021 at 5:40 pm

    No need to waste any more time to revive discussion. Just resubmit the last proposal of which both countries have approved and signed upon. Then fastrack its commencement.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 18 Thumb down 2
    • YB Albert on Nov 29, 2021 at 10:00 pm

      Rakyat waving white flags…going hungry.
      Here,we are reviving an abandoned project.
      Suddenly so much money? Issue bonds? Or borrow from KWSP?
      Are we behaving like superpower USA ,to print more money?

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1
  • herewego on Nov 29, 2021 at 5:58 pm

    During press conference P.M. Lee (SG) stated that MY had proposed a new plan with “clean slate” , now the HSR route that linked KL to Singapore , will it back to original plan or some realignment ? Cost cutting measure ? or maintain same speed but a simple station design just like how Japan Shinkansen station design ? How fast will be the construction ? What business model for both country this time ? Rolling stock and maintenance ? Last mile connectivity issue for connecting HSR with local transportation such as bus , taxi , LRT , MRT , ART , BRT and so on ? This will be another challenging question for both side. Many citizen commented that it’s a waste of time for this, by opt for ETS running at meter-gauge spec at 140km/h from KL Sentral to Johor Bahru which cost 3 hours + immigration time to Singapore that may cost another 1 / 2 hours , air route will be subjected to which place you come and fly to Singapore , however noted that it is served as EXTRA OPTION for both city. We won’t know for sure how this deal is going on and what U-TURN might be. Well , let’s see how it goes.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1
  • Good initiative. We should revive it. Otherwise it is just down the drain paying 45mil to SG for nothing. This will definitely boost the economy for both country.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 4
  • Ruslan Bahari on Nov 29, 2021 at 8:36 pm

    Sure. Why not? We’ve only paid hundreds of millions as compensation to abandon the gig. What’s a few hundred million more, eh?

    Insanity is…. oh well. If I repeat it I would fit the description too…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 2
  • Problem is, we put in 90% investment, but has just 50% of say. Singspore put in 10-15%, just for half a bridge and maybe 10km of track plus new station, but dictate how the rail is operated.
    Why not just build hsr and stop at jb sentral. Those who want to go singapore, take the RTS to woodlands.
    The number of stops to planned jurong east hsr station has same number of stops as to woodlands by smrt ftom central business district.
    Plus singapore ends up having a say on hsr land in Malaysian soil.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 18 Thumb down 20
    • Spin Too Much on Nov 29, 2021 at 10:52 pm

      If rail planners think like you, the Shinkansen should have just stop at Yokohama and not directly into Tokyo. I wonder how ‘successful’ it would have been if that became a reality.

      This HSR will benefit Malaysia more than SG in the long run, so why not pay more to get it done? The more we procrastinate (something Malaysians love to do) to longer it takes to recoup those expenditure & that ill advised loss of RM45mil.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
  • O My Crawn on Nov 30, 2021 at 9:23 am

    better 1st spend money to fight covid19

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
  • Ben Bakob on Mar 09, 2023 at 5:03 pm

    I believe the best model to replace HSR with latest technology is Hyperloop train that is much suitable for both countries with 27 minutes travel journey.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

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