December 13 — MALAYSIA will proceed with the long-delayed high-speed rail (HSR) project, but with the track ending in Johor, and Singapore out of the picture, said a source.
The source said Malaysia would pay its neighbour RM300 million in compensation.
Construction is expected to start in 2022.
The cabinet decided on Friday that Malaysia would not work with the city state on the project as contracted in December 2016.
The project was put on ice in 2018 after Pakatan Harapan won the general elections. The new government had asked for and received a deferral of two years from Singapore, paying S$15 million (RM45 million) for the favour.
In May, Perikatan Nasional, which ousted the PH government mid-term, asked for yet more time to allow further discussion.
Singapore acquiesced to a final extension, until December 31.
Now, about two weeks before the deadline, Malaysia has decided to go it alone.
“Malaysia will need to compensate Singapore with a payment of S$104.67 million. It must be paid by December 31,” the source said.
The sum is less than half of the S$250 million quoted recently by Free Malaysia Today as the price to scrap the deal inked with Singapore.
Solo, Malaysia expects to pay around RM65 billion for the HSR, excluding the trains, said the source.
The HSR main terminal will be in Bandar Malaysia in the capital city. Iskandar Puteri, Ayer Itam, Pagoh, Ayer Keroh and Seremban will each house a station.
The source said Malaysia had asked to build a HSR station at the Senai International Airport, near Johor Baru, which Singapore had perceived as a threat to its aviation industry.
Singapore rejected the request, said the source, but Malaysia should be entitled to decide where to build the stations .
The cabinet also decided to let the Transport Ministry have oversight over the HSR project, taking over from Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Mustapa Mohamed.
The 350km rail system linking KL to Johor Baru will cut overland travel time between the two cities to 90 minutes.
It was to have crossed the Johor Straits into Singapore via a bridge near the Second Link.
The new targeted completion date is 2029 while the number of expected passengers has been revised downwards to 4.2 million.
It was previously projected that 8.4 million people would take the HSR in 2031. By 2041, the rail line is expected to serve 17.7 million passengers.
The HSR is envisioned as part of the Pan-Asia Railway that departs from Kunming, China.
It will eventually connect to Thailand where it will become part of the larger Trans-Asian Railway that connects the Far East to Europe.