As expected, the development of the high-speed rail link between Malaysia and Singapore was very much on the minds of national and business leaders whom Najib Abdul Razak met during his three-day working visit to Japan.
‘Shinkansen’ or bullet train was the main topic of discussion at all the meetings, showing the all-pervading interest of the Japanese in the ambitious project.
Asked by Malaysian journalists about his experience riding the trains in China and Japan, the prime minister was cautious in his reply.
“I don’t think I should say publicly my views because it will prejudice the outcome of the final decision.
“Let it be a process that is carried out in a most objective manner because it’s not only in the passengers’ experience but it is going to be decided on the basis of the availability payment over a period of 25 years,” Najib said at the end of his visit last night.
“Plus, the financial package that could be made available. So there are various other elements. One of which, of course, is the comfort of passengers.”
High-speed train operators from China and Japan are among those who have expressed interest in the 350km high-speed rail project.
Najib was aware that his visit early this month to China, where he rode the fast train from Beijing to Tianjin, attracted the attention of leading operators around the world, including the Japanese whose selling point is their Shinkansen technology.
He said the tender for the project was expected to be called in the fourth quarter of next year, and the Japanese were invited to make their bid.
“Malaysia and Singapore have said that the choice of system to be used will be based on objective, transparent evaluation... through a process of open international bidding,” Najib said.