Malaysiakini

Green light for bullet train

Malaysia and Singapore have approved construction of a bullet train linking the two countries, to be built by Malaysian conglomerate YTL Corporation, according to a report today.

The New Straits Times, citing an unnamed official from YTL, said the high-speed train would cost some RM8.1 billion and that design plans and studies were underway.

"The governments of Malaysia and Singapore have given the thumbs up for the bullet train project and YTL has started working out the design and track laying plan," the official was quoted as saying by the newspaper.

The plan "will include a prototype design quite similar to bullet trains in Japan and Taiwan, to submit to the respective agencies for approval in the next four to six months," the official said.

YTL Corp, which has property, utility and transport concerns, floated the proposal in July last year for the bullet train which will allow passengers to travel from Malaysia's capital Kuala Lumpur to Singapore in 90 minutes.

The official said YTL would be working off its prototype for the high-speed Express Rail Link (ERL) train from Kuala Lumpur to Malaysia's international airport, as well as working with Germany's Siemens AG.

YTL has a 50 percent stake in Express Rail Link.

Work to commence end 2007

"YTL plans to use the prototype of its ERL project and to draw the expertise of Siemens AG, Europe's largest engineering company, for the bullet train project," the official said.

YTL and Siemens are expected to commence work on the project by the end of 2007, with completion seen at end-2009, according to the newspaper.

YTL officials could not immediately be reached for comment.

Currently, there is a rail service to Singapore but it takes about seven hours while flights between the countries are pricey.

Malaysia and Singapore are also linked by a causeway which is routinely subject to heavy traffic.