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High Speed Rail (HSR)

In 2010, the Malaysian Government launched the Economic Transformation Programme (ETP) with the objective of transforming the country into a high-income nation by the year 2020.

Under the Greater Kuala Lumpur/Klang Valley National Key Economic Area (NKEA) component of the ETP is the Southern Corridor High Speed Rail project, popularly known as the HSR project. The initiative is one of the Entry Point Projects (EPPs) that aims to improve both the economic dynamism of Malaysia’s capital city as well as its liveability rankings relative to other global cities.

At present, commuters looking to travel from Kuala Lumpur to Singapore and vice versa have three options of transport: air, road, and an existing intercity rail network. The routes relevant to the HSR project has seen strong growth in the past few years in terms of passenger-kilometres of travel, with the total travel market growing from 5.47 million passenger-kilometres in 2005 to 7.45 million passenger-kilometres in 2011.



From the data above, there is a clear need to improve connectivity between Malaysia and Singapore, for currently daily traffic congestion is acute, and far exceeds the capacity of the Causeway and Second Link. 

Primarily, the objective of SPAD, along with other relevant government agencies and the Malaysian and Singaporean governments, is to reduce the travel time between the two nations to 90 minutes; thereby strengthening the link between two of Southeast Asia’s most vibrant and fast-growing economic engines. Additionally, the HSR presents an opportunity to build and rejuvenate smaller cities in Peninsular Malaysia by connecting them to the two major metropolises. The HSR is an efficient and safe mode of transport for commuters, which results in passengers saving a sizeable amount of travel time.


Once the HSR is in operation, it will serve as the fastest point-to-point mode of public transport travel between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. The HSR is seen to be in line with the transformation of Malaysia, as it links 2 major urban centres to meet the growing demand of commuters, consequently catalysing economic growth and it also enhances long term economic competitiveness while improving the quality of life of Malaysians.

The High Speed Rail will connect 5 intermediate stops in Malaysia to Singapore, following a coastal route.

The stations that have already been identified through discussions between the two countries is situated in Bandar Malaysia, Seremban, Ayer Keroh, Muar, Batu Pahat, Nusajaya and Jurong East in Singapore.

Amongst the benefits of this project is the key fact that it will enhance the Greater Kuala Lumpur and Klang Valley as a location of choice for businesses while simultaneously facilitating the seamless flow of individuals and businesses between the two countries. Through the HSR line’s leverage, the socio-economic development of cities and towns along its corridor will also be enhanced.

The economic and social benefits derived from the connection of Kuala Lumpur to Singapore bring about huge potential for development projects. This geographical concentration of clusters of business and employees will result in an enlarged pool of manpower, increasing the amount of workers who are skilled.

There are a number of HSR lines worldwide which have, through their construction, brought about broader socio-economic benefits, including the two routes below, located in France and China respectively. These case studies provides a basis to why Malaysia, as a developing nation, be able to gain from the HSR project:

The Train à Grand Vitesse (TGV)     

The city of Lille was hard hit by the closures of its traditional industries, including coal mining. To replace the jobs lost, the mayor of Lille campaigned hard to get the HSR line routed through the city, as they looked to reap the benefits a new transport line would offer. Lille is now the nodal point between Paris, Brussels and London. A new through station for the TGV was built near the site of the old station, adjacent to a major commercial center, with offices, hotels, and a large retail space. There has been reorganisation of local universities, including housing some faculties in old cotton mills, which in turn; created local employment and businesses there. The high speed line there is seen as a catalyst for continuing growth.

The China High-Speed Rail

China’s high-speed rail system has emerged as an unexpected success story. Where other emerging economies are faltering in comparison, economic and transportation experts are citing the high speed rail as one reason for China’s continued economic growth. 

Just five years after China’s high-speed rail system opened, it carries nearly twice as many passengers each month as the country’s domestic airline industry. With traffic growing 28 percent a year for the last several years, China’s high-speed rail network will soon handle more passengers than the 54 million people a month who board domestic flights in the United States.

The economic growth can also be related to work productivity, as a paper by the World Bank reported that cities in China that are connected to the high-speed rail network is likely to have a higher woker productivity level. Also, companies find themselves within a couple of hours rides from tens of millions of potential customers.

This is due to new residential and commercial districts that have mushroomed around the high-speed train stations which is also one of the leading cause for China’s rapid urbanization.


SPAD was tasked with the undertaking of the initial stages of the project. The first stage of the project examined the business case for developing the HSR, and a feasibility study was conducted, that looked at the strategic, economic and technical aspects of the HSR. This study took into consideration local conditions and needs, with input received from all relevant stakeholders. The results of this study was then additionally tested against international benchmarks and vetted by technical experts.

At present, Malaysia and Singapore are in discussion to ensure the various implementation aspects of the project; such as the design, finance, governance, operations, security requirements, immigration requirements and legal arrangements are thoroughly covered and that the most mutually beneficial outcomes are achieved, through close co-operation between the two governments.

Joint Statement by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Prime Minister Dato’ Sri Mohd Najib Tun Abdul Razak at the Singapore-Malaysia Leaders’ Retreat in Singapore on 5 May 2015
6th Leaders Retreat, 5 May 2015

The Leaders noted the steady progress on the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High Speed Rail (HSR) project. The Leaders noted that agreements have been reached on the dual co-located Customs, Immigration and Quarantine (CIQ) configuration, the frequency bands to be reserved for HSR operations, as well as locating the depot and stabling facilities in Malaysia. Prime Minister Lee was pleased to announce that the Singapore HSR terminus will be sited at Jurong East, which dovetails with Singapore’s overall plans to transform the area into its second Central Business District. The two Prime Ministers further noted that since the HSR is the first of its kind in the region, the project has received great attention, both domestically and internationally, with many countries offering to share their experience and expertise for the project. The Leaders noted that the initial target of 2020 may need to be re-assessed given the scale and complexity of the project, but reaffirmed that both countries are fully committed to the success of the project. Both Leaders were encouraged by the support and attention from the global community, and looked forward to further progress on this game-changing iconic project, which will boost connectivity, facilitate travel between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore, enhance business linkages, and improve people-to-people ties.

Joint Statement by Prime Minister Dato’ Sri Mohd Najib Tun Abdul Razak and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the Malaysia-Singapore Leaders’ Retreat in Putrajaya, Malaysia on 7 April 2014.
5th Leaders Retreat, 7 April 2014
The Leaders noted the establishment and the good progress of the High Speed Rail (HSR) Work Group under the JMC and the endorsement of its Terms of Reference. This will ensure steady progress of this game-changing project. The HSR will facilitate seamless travel between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore, enhance business linkages, and bring the peoples of Malaysia and Singapore closer together. It will usher in a new era of growth, prosperity, and opportunities for both countries, and give both countries greater stakes in each other’s prosperity and success. They urged the HSR Work Group to work diligently towards fulfilling its mandate by the year 2020.

Joint Statement By Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Prime Minister Dato'Sri Mohd Najib Tun Abdul Razak at the Singapore-Malaysia Leaders' Retreat in Singapore on 19 February 2013.

4th Leaders Retreat, 19 February 2013

The Prime Ministers agreed to build a High Speed Rail link between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. This is a strategic development in bilateral relations that will dramatically improve the connectivity between Malaysia and Singapore. It will usher in a new era of strong growth, prosperity, and opportunities for both countries. It will also facilitate seamless travel between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore, enhance business linkages, and bring the peoples of Malaysia and Singapore closer together. Ultimately, this project will give both countries greater stakes in each other’s prosperity and success. The Leaders tasked the Joint Ministerial Committee (JMC) to look into the details and modalities of the High Speed Rail link.

Request for Information (RFI) : Joint Market Sensing Exercise for the Kuala Lumpur – Singapore High Speed Rail Project (HSR) by SPAD and LTA Introduction

A market sensing exercise via a Request for Information (RFI) was jointly called by the Government of Malaysia and Government of Singapore in order to seek views in connection with the Kuala Lumpur – Singapore HSR project. The table below shows the timeline of the RFI process.


Objective of the RFI exercise is to gauge market interest and gather industry opinion on selected commercial and technical aspects of the project. The feedbacks received were used to inform the on-going bilateral discussions and subsequent formal tender process. Joint Statement by Malaysian Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Dato’ Sri Abdul Wahid Omar and Singapore’s Coordinating Minister for Infrastructure and Minister of Transport Mr Khaw Boon Wan

This is so that the feedback recieved would help refine and validate options, which will in turn help ensure a successful tender process subsequently.

Participation eligibility

Participation in the RFI was open to companies and/ or consortiums with experience within the HSR value chain and other similarly large infrastructure projects.

To deem their eligibility, both SPAD Malaysia and LTA Singapore assessed the following information provided by the companies and/ or consortiums during registration:

  • Name of submitting party
  • Name and description of joint parties represented
  • Company profile
  • Reference to relevant project experience
  • Signed NDA

RFI document

Eligible participants were given access to the RFI document, consisting of the following sections:

  • Introduction

This section provides an overview of the exercise along with its objective and purpose. The RFI process is also explained in detail.

  • Project information

This section states the objective of the Kuala Lumpur – Singapore HSR project and its background, joint key agreements achieved to date between the Government of Malaysia and Government of Singapore and details of the project.

  • Commercial models and procurement approaches

The proposed commercial models and procurement approach for the Kuala Lumpur – Singapore HSR project are set out in detail in this section.

  • Questionnaire

A set of questionnaire based on the proposed commercial models and procurement approaches is developed in this section for participants to respond to. The questionnaire aims to seek feedback and suggestions on whether the proposed commercial models are realistic, deliverable and attractive to the market as well as suggestions for alternative arrangements from the respondents. Participants’ responses to these questions are critical to both Malaysia and Singapore to understand and anticipate how risks can be effectively shared with the private sector.

RFI exercise status update

A total of 98 RFI response submissions was received. The respondents span along the HSR value chain and include entities based in Malaysia, Singapore, Asia Pacific, Europe, Middle East and North America.

The chart and table below show a snapshot of these respondents.

Land Public Transport