It’s final: Singapore and Malaysia abandon plans to build $27bn high-speed rail line

Plans to build a high-speed rail link between Singapore and Kuala Lumpur have been cancelled, according to a statement issued by both governments on 1 January.

The 350km line, which was expected to be complete in 2031, would have cut travel time between the Malaysian capital and Singapore from around seven hours to 90 minutes. However, Malaysia wanted to make changes to its design to cut its US$27.3bn cost "in light of the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic".

The statement said: "Both governments conducted several discussions with regard to these changes and had not been able to reach an agreement. Therefore, the HSR Agreement lapsed on 31 December 2020."

The scheme, first proposed in 2013, has suffered a number of previous suspensions, however Khaw Boon Wan, Singapore’s minister of transport, called this latest halt "final".

In July 2018, Khaw Boon Wan told the island’s parliament that a team of more than 100 specialists had been appointed to work on the Singapore side of the line, and five civil engineering tenders were published.

The following September, a two-year delay was agreed on and both governments suspended their tenders, and no further work was carried out.

Image: The planned route of the high-speed link (Seloloving/CC BY-SA 4.0) 

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