The Kuala Lumpur terminal of the Singapore-to-Malaysia high speed rail line will be "the world’s largest underground city" and a "glittering gem on China’s rail corridor", China Railway Group has said.
Taking inspiration from an underground complex in the Canadian city of Montreal, the development, called Bandar Malaysia, will include a shopping mall, canals, theme parks, cultural villages, a financial centre and the state-owned construction group’s own $2bn regional headquarters.
The claim came after China Railway Group and co-developer Iskandar Waterfront Holdings (IWH) concluded a $1.76bn deal to acquire 60% of Bandar Malaysia’s land from troubled state investor 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB).
A China Railway Group official made the comment on a documentary on the maritime silk road, aired on Channel NewsAsia on Tuesday (25 October).
The underground city will be part of the 196ha Bandar Malaysia district being developed in the southwest of Kuala Lumpur, about 7km from the centre.
Cai Zemin, general manager for China Railway’s Malaysia office, said: "Bandar Malaysia will be a glittering gem on China’s rail corridor. China’s rail corridor will link Southeast Asia with east Asia, west Asia and south Asia."
Civil engineering work on the 375km, $11bn link is due to begin next year, and the first track will be laid in 2018. The line is scheduled to become operational in 2026.
Broadway Malyan’s visualisation of the above ground mixed-used suburb
The KL-Singapore line will eventually be extended north to form the "pan-Asian network". This will connect the Malaysian peninsula with Bangkok, Vientiane, Rangoon, Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi, joining the Chinese system at Kunming in Yunnan province.
The Bandar Malaysia hub will also include more local rail services and buses. It is expected to have a gross development value of $40bn, and will be completed over the next 20 years.
Claims that the consortium owned a majority of Bandar Malaysia’s equity were denied by Datuk Abdul Rahman Dahlan, Malaysia’s prime minister, earlier this week. He told reporters: "In terms of equity, Malaysians still own 76% of Bandar Malaysia even after the sale. So to say 60% of the equity was sold to Chinese firms is misleading."
The Bandar Malaysia project team has sent teams to Canada to study how Montreal built an underground city that is used by more than half a million citizens every day during winter. It is being masterplanned by UK architect Broadway Malyan.
Top image: A rendering of the finished development (Iskander)