Singapore and Malaysia will sign an agreement for establishing a High-Speed Rail (HSR) link between the countries next week, Prime Minister Najib Razak said in Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday.
The HSR agreement was supposed to be signed earlier, but had got postponed as the two sides worked on a complex agreement. Malaysia and Singapore signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in July in the presence of Najib and Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.
The 350-km high speed rail link, when completed, will reduce the travel time between Singapore and Kuala Lumpur to around 90 minutes. The corporation handling the construction of the rail line says the integration between Singapore and KL will be on the lines of London-Paris, Tokyo-Osaka and Madrid-Seville.
"We will sign the HSR project agreement next week in KL," Najib said during a development conference in Johor, the Channel News Asia reported.
Lee had earlier said the agreement between Malaysia and Singapore for setting up the HSR should be comprehensive and sound as it's a complicated project involving cost sharing and the selection of contractors.
The project will link 5 Malaysian cities to Singapore, following a coastal route and will herald closer economic integration between the countries. The economic integration between Singapore and Kuala Lumpur, which the HSR makes possible, will result in both the cities benefiting, MyHSR Corporation chief executive Mohd Nur Ismal Kamal told Business Times.
"Now the focus is on mega cities and how agglomeration creates more growth. By population, Kuala Lumpur ranks 72nd among the 300 largest cities in the world while Singapore ranks 84th, he said.
"Through economic integration between the two cities, together with Singapore we would rank 28th in terms of population and 11th in terms of gross domestic product (GDP). We know that it is a potential thing that is going to launch us into the league of mega cities. It creates an opportunity to get the cities where we have stops to grow along and to be part of the mega city. We have seen that happening all over the world."
The construction of the rail link is estimated to cost RM70 billion (around US$16 billion). China, Japan and South Korea are reportedly lobbying to land the contract, reports have said.