Malaysia gave its backing on Monday to a $2.3 billion plan to build a bullet train between Kuala Lumpur and neighbouring Singapore, saying that a study had shown the proposal was feasible.
Malaysian property and utility firm YTL Corp Bhd has proposed to build and run the train between the two capitals, cutting the journey to 90 minutes from today’s glacial pace of seven and a half hours along a colonial-era rail corridor.
“We are for it,” Malaysian Transport Minister Chan Kong Choy told Reuters in an interview at his office.
“We have allowed them (YTL) to do a feasibility study, which they have done, and so they came back to us and said the project is feasible,” he added. “So now the government is conducting a social impact study because it involves land acquisition.” The idea for a high-speed train between the two cities, spanning about 300 km (190 miles), dates back to the late 1990s, but it came to the fore last year after the government invited companies to come up with ideas for privately funded projects.
YTL already runs an express train between Kuala Lumpur and the city’s international airport about 60 km (37 miles) to the south.
YTL managing director Francis Yeoh welcomed the government’s support for the proposal but declined to give any details.
“It’s very feasible,” he told Reuters by phone. “It’s not difficult.” Chan said the plan would not involve any major government outlay on basic infrastructure, merely facilitating the project by allowing for land to be acquired and approvals granted, including negotiations with Singapore.
“The government thought that the project will be very beneficial, particularly to the development of the southern part of the peninsula,” he said. “Having said that, we are very careful before making the final decision.” -Reuters