Singapore suspends HSR Project until 2020 as Malaysia cites high costs


Singapore has agreed to suspend the construction of the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High Speed Rail (HSR) Project until 31 May 2020 following a request from Malaysia due to its high costs.

In a joint statement, Malaysia and Singapore said that both countries are committed to the HSR Project and Malaysia will bear the agreed costs in suspending the HSR Project.

Also, if Malaysia does not proceed with the HSR Project by 31 May 2020, it will also bear the agreed costs incurred by Singapore in fulfilling the HSR Bilateral Agreement.

Both governments said that during the suspension period, they will continue to discuss the best way forward for the HSR Project with the aim of reducing costs.

Prior to the postponement of the project, Singapore Coordinating Minister for Infrastructure and Minister for Transport Khaw Boon Wan and Malaysia Minister for Economic Affairs Mohamed Azmin bin Ali exchanged legal documents in Putrajaya to modify the HSR Bilateral Agreement based on the new understanding.

The HSR Express Service between Singapore and Kuala Lumpur is now expected to commence by 1 January 2031 instead of the original commencement date of 31 December 2026.

Following the lengthy suspension period, infrastructure companies of Singapore and Malaysia, SG HSR and MyHSR Corporation, will call off the international joint tender for the HSR Assets Company.

The governments of Malaysia and Singapore had signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the HSR Project in 2016. Prime Ministers of both countries announced the project in 2013.

Officials, led by the Ministry of Transport and the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) of Malaysia, and the Ministry of Transport and Land Transport Authority of Singapore, held extensive discussions on the project before the MoU was announced.

A consortium of WSP Engineering Malaysia, Mott MacDonald Malaysia and Ernst & Young Advisory Services has been chosen as the joint development partner (JDP) for the HSR Project. It will provide project management support and technical advice on HSR systems and operations, and develop technical and safety standards.

The consortium will be assist the joint project team established between MyHSR and LTA with the preparation of documents for the forthcoming tenders.

Engineering firm Systra, in partnership with Meinhardt, has been awarded two reference design consultant (RDC) contracts by MyHSR Corporation for the HSR Project.

Upon completion, the HSR Project will connect seven cities in Malaysia to Singapore and reduces travel times between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore to 90 minutes.

The HSR Project will have eight stations – the termini in Bandar Malaysia and Singapore, and six intermediate stations in Putrajaya, Seremban, Ayer Keroh, Muar, Batu Pahat and Iskandar Puteri.


Image: Artistic impression of the HSR terminus in Jurong East. Photo: courtesy of Farrells.

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