MEETING IN Brunei at the end of September, the Transport Ministers of the Association of South East Asian Nations agreed to push ahead with the 5500 km Trans-Asian rail link from Singapore to Kunming. A formal recommendation is to be put to the Asean heads-of-government summit in Singapore this month by Malaysian Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

The Malaysian government was invited by Asean to steer the project, which was launched in 1995. Following initial routing studies, the cabinet has now appointed KL Consult and Za’aba Consultants to carry out a detailed feasibility study by 2003. Costed at US$2·5bn, the preferred route would run via Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam, with connecting links to Vientiane in Laos, the port of Bung Anh and to Myanmar. Construction is expected to be finished by 2006.

  • Malaysian Railways is discussing with Ircon International a US$1·9bn project to double-track and electrify 350 km of its main line from Ipoh to Butterworth and the Thai border at Padang Besar. Work is under way on extending the Kuala Lumpur suburban electrification from Rawang to Ipoh.