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Tuesday, December 13, 2016, 22:02

Malaysia, Singapore sign pact on high speed rail line

By Xinhua

Malaysia, Singapore sign pact on high speed rail line
Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (left) shakes hands with Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak during a joint press conference at the Prime Minister's Office in Putrajaya on Dec 13, 2016 following an official agreement signing ceremony for the construction of a high speed rail link between the city-state and Kuala Lumpur. (MANAN VATSYAYANA / AFP)

PUTRAJAYA, Malaysia - The governments of Malaysia and Singapore signed a legally-binding agreement Tuesday on the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High Speed Rail (HSR), which will cut travel time between the two cities to 90 minutes once it runs into operation by the end of 2026 .

The new rail line will cut travel time between the two cities to 90 minutes once it runs into operation by the end of 2026

The signing ceremony was witnessed by Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak and Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, who was paying a visit to Putrajaya for the 7th Leaders' Retreat between the two countries.

The two leaders did not disclose what the cost of the project, which is estimated to cost more than US$10 billion. Companies from China , Japan and Europe have long expressed interests in this project.

The agreement, which followed the signing of a memorandum of understanding on the project in July, has formalized the technical, safety and security requirements, commercial, financing, procurement and regulatory frameworks, as well as customs, immigration and quarantine (CIQ) arrangements for the HSR.

The two leaders looked forward to the appointment of a Joint Development Partner by early 2017, as well as the calling of the systems tenders from late 2017, said a statement released jointly by the two sides.

The agreement stated that the HSR will have a new double-track line, which will accommodate all types of conventional high-speed rail trains and technology available in the market with a design speed of 350 kilometers per hour.

Najib told press that the two sides are very committed to the deadline of 2026 as the operation date of the project, "which means we must work very closely together, and we must overcome all the challenges as we move ahead."

Describing the project as "a significant milestone" in their relationship with Malaysia, Lee said the HSR "will transform the way we interact, do business, and for the better, and give both sides a big stake in keeping the relationship to be stable and warm."

Malaysia, Singapore sign pact on high speed rail line

According to the agreement, Singapore and Malaysia will design, build, finance and maintain the civil infrastructures and operate the HSR stations within their respective territories, but they will jointly call a tender for a privately-financed assets company to design, build, finance, operate and maintain rolling stock and other rail assets, including track-work, power, signaling and telecommunications.

The two countries will also jointly call a tender for an international operator to operate the transit from Kula Lumpur to Singapore, while Malaysia will call a tender for the operation of the HSR domestic service in Malaysia.

To allow for seamless travel for international passengers, the two sides will set up three CIQ facilities at Singapore, Bandar Malaysia in downtown Kuala Lumpur and Iskandar Puteri in Johor.

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