Projected to be completed in 2020, the project will reduce the time it takes to travel between Singapore and Kuala Lumpur to a mere 90 minutes. The move came as Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong met his Malaysian counterpart Najib Razak for talks in Singapore.
At present, it takes about six hours by rail to cover the 190 miles between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore, and four hours by road, an off putting prospect for many busy businesspeople. Malaysia’s current connection to Singapore dates back from the days of British colonial rule, and incorporates stops over many towns between the two capitals. This project was actually first suggested as far back as 1950, but plans were repeatedly shelved due to concerns over costs.
Both leaders hope that the link will boost business prospects and allow for greater trade between the two nations. It could also prove popular with the growing numbers of tourists taking advantage of Asia’s increasingly zippy rail connections. It’s hoped that this new line will bring south east Asia’s transport systems closer to that of Europe, which will eventually link all the way to China.
Lee likened the project to the Eurostar connection between London and Paris, saying, “It’s a strategic project for the two countries. It will change the way we see each other.”
Although at the present time no costs have been made public, it is expected that private companies will take up the bulk of the work. A joint Malay-Singapore committee will be finalising all plans.
According to a joint statement, the rail connection will be a”strategic development in bilateral relations that will dramatically improve” connectivity.
“Ultimately, this project will give both countries greater stakes in each other’s prosperity and success.”