KL-Singapore HSR Revival: Private Sector-Led, Govt Cost-Savings Focus


The notion of connecting Kuala Lumpur to Singapore with a high-speed rail (HSR) has long captivated the imaginations of travelers and business professionals alike, promising a blend of speed, efficiency, and economic synergy between two of Southeast Asia’s most vibrant cities. In a recent development, Malaysia’s Transport Ministry has turned its attention to a series of concept proposals for the HSR project, with a clear mandate to keep the financial burden off the government’s shoulders.

Transport Minister Anthony Loke, in a candid disclosure during the Dewan Rakyat’s ministerial question time, revealed the receipt of a preliminary report from MyHSR Corp Sdn Bhd on the HSR project. The report’s details are under rigorous scrutiny, pending a final assessment at the ministry level. “Once we finalize the evaluation, the prime minister and deputy prime minister will deliberate on the HSR project’s future direction,” Loke articulated, addressing inquiries from Khairil Nizam Khirudin (PN-Jerantut) regarding the project’s status and funding model.

Emphasizing the government’s stance, Loke reiterated the aspiration for the HSR project to be propelled forward by the private sector, negating the need for government funding. This strategic direction underlines a significant pivot in how large-scale infrastructure projects are conceptualized, highlighting a preference for private sector dynamism over traditional government-funded models. “The government has resolved that the project will not entail government funding. Nonetheless, we are open to exploring how private sector funding mechanisms can be integrated without imposing financial strains on the government,” Loke elucidated.


The Kuala Lumpur-Singapore HSR project, signed off in a bilateral agreement between Malaysia and Singapore in 2016, was initially slated for completion in 2026. This ambitious rail link aimed to slash the travel time between the two cities to a mere 90 minutes, offering a transformative leap in cross-border connectivity. However, the project encountered a hiatus in 2021, with the Perikatan Nasional-led government’s cancellation leading to a RM320 million compensation payment to Singapore.

The tide turned with the advent of the unity government in November 2022, which expressed a renewed interest in the HSR project, provided it could proceed without financial encumbrances on Putrajaya. MyHSR Corp, fully owned by the Minister of Finance Inc, was tasked with steering the project’s delivery and implementation, marking a pivotal step toward its revival.

A flurry of interest from the private sector culminated in 31 firms across seven local and international consortia submitting concept proposals, following a Request for Information (RFI) exercise initiated by MyHSR Corp in July 2023. With the evaluation of these proposals expected to span two months, the horizon looks promising for the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore HSR project, potentially redefining economic and travel dynamics in the region while adhering to a stringent principle of financial prudence.

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