Malaysia receives seven concept proposals for KL-Singapore high-speed rail project

SINGAPORE: Seven Malaysian and international groups – comprising 31 firms – have submitted their concept proposals for the development of the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High-Speed Rail (KL-SG HSR) project, marking another twist in Malaysia’s bid to revive the on-off-on initiative.

According to a statement on Monday (Jan 15), the proposals were submitted to MyHSR Corporation Sdn Bhd (MyHSR Corp) in response to a Request for Information (RFI) exercise which invited players from the private sector to deliver the project. 

MyHSR Corp is a company owned by the Minister of Finance (Incorporated) and under the supervision of Malaysia’s Transport Ministry, and is responsible for the development and implementation of the project.

The project will be based on a public-private partnership initiative on the Design-Finance-Build-Operate-Transfer (DFBOT) model. 

“The findings from the RFI evaluation will be presented to the Ministry of Transport and the Cabinet for deliberation,” said MyHSR Corp chairman Fauzi Abdul Rahman in the statement.

“If the response is positive, we will move on to the second phase with the Request for Proposal (RFP) stage to obtain detailed proposals from the selected consortia.” 

According to a New Straits Times (NST) report on Sunday, two Malaysian conglomerates that were expected to submit their concept proposals include YTL Group and Berjaya Group. 

Industry insiders reportedly said that other participants in the project would most likely include Malaysian Resources Corp Bhd, Econpile Holdings Bhd and Gamuda Bhd. 

The RFI exercise for the proposed railway was launched in response to encouraging feedback from a preliminary round of input gathering held in March last year.

Participating firms have to show their technical expertise as well as overall ability “to develop and operate the railway and services with the necessary resources and within the budgeted cost, quality, and time”.

They are also required to present workable business and commercial models, and appropriate frameworks for consortium and project governance.

The 350km-long HSR project, which can travel up to a speed of 350km/h, was first proposed in 2013 and led to a binding agreement inked in Dec 2016 with an aim to have the line operational by 2026.

But it was initially discontinued after multiple postponements at Malaysia’s request and an eventual lapsing of an agreement in December 2020.

Malaysia paid more than S$102 million (US$76.46 million) in compensation to Singapore for the terminated project.

Talk of a resurrection of the project gained strength after Malaysia Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim took power following the general elections in 2022 and his visit to Singapore early last year where he met with Singapore leaders.

On Aug 3 last year, then-Acting Transport Minister Chee Hong Tat said in parliament that Singapore was willing to discuss any new proposal from Malaysia for the KL-SG HSR project in good faith, “starting from a clean slate”.

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