ASIA: A bilateral agreement for the development of the 350 km Kuala Lumpur – Singapore high speed rail project was signed on December 13, when the two countries’ Prime Ministers took part in their annual retreat, which was this year was held at Putrajaya in Malaysia.

The agreement was signed by Singapore’s Co-ordinating Minister for Infrastructure and Minister for Transport Khaw Boon Wan and Minister in the Malaysian Prime Minister’s Department Abdul Rahman Dahlan. It formalises the technical, safety and security requirements for the project, along with the commercial, financing, procurement and regulatory frameworks and the customs, immigration and quarantine arrangements. It builds on a memorandum of understanding signed on July 19.

A bilateral committee led by senior government officials from both countries will oversee the agreement.

It has been agreed that Singapore and Malaysia will each design, build, finance and maintain the civil works and stations within their own territory. This will be done through their appointed InfraCos, Land Transport Authority and MyHSR.

Tendering is underway for the appointment of a joint development partner by early 2017. The JDP would provide project management support and technical and procurement advice, and develop technical and safety standards.

Malaysia and Singapore are to jointly call tenders in late 2017 for the appointment of AssetsCo, which would design, build, finance and maintain the rolling stock and railway systems including track, power, signalling and telecommunications.

The double-track line would be designed to accommodate ‘all types of conventional high speed rail trains and technology available in the market with a design speed of 350 km/h’. There would be eight stations, at Jurong East in Singapore and Bandar Malaysia, Putrajaya, Seremban, Ayer Keroh, Muar, Batu Pahat and Iskandar Puteri in Malaysia. The planned bridge over the Straits of Johor to the west of the Second Link would offer a clearance of 25 m above water level.

Malaysia and Singapore will also jointly call tenders for the OpCo International contract to operate the Kuala Lumpur - Singapore non-stop Express Service with a journey time of 90 min, as well as a cross-border Shuttle Service between Iskandar Puteri and Singapore. Direct Kuala Lumpur – Singapore HSR Express Services are expected to begin by December 31 2026.

Separately, Malaysia will tender the OpCo Domestic contract covering domestic services within Malaysia. OpCo International trains will have scheduling and operational priority over OpCo Domestic services.

Co-located customs, immigration and quarantine facilities will be provided at Singapore, Bandar Malaysia and Iskandar Puteri, with international passengers clearing both countries’ checks at the point of departure.

In a joint statement following the retreat, Malaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Razak and Singapore’s Prime Minster Lee Hsien Loong said the signing of the agreement was ‘a historic moment in bilateral relations and reflects both countries’ commitment to the marquee project, which will bring the two countries even closer together, improve connectivity, deepen people-to-people ties and catalyse further economic co-operation’.