Jun 17, 2016

    Seoul pitch for KL-SG high-speed rail project


    SOUTH Korea has reiterated its strong interest to bid for the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore high-speed rail (HSR) project, telling Malaysia that the system it builds would be 35 per cent cheaper to operate than a Chinese or a Japanese one, media reported.

    "Yes, we certainly discussed the project. Liow welcomed our participation (in the bid)," Bernama quoted South Korean Transport Minister Kang Hoin as saying after he met his Malaysian counterpart Liow Tiong Lai on Wednesday in Putrajaya.

    During their meeting, Mr Kang stressed that South Korea's 11-year-old KTX high-speed rail is superior in one aspect - ticket sales and validation, China International Radio reported.

    "Our locally developed technology would help save tremendous cost and time as all transactions and inspections are done through the smartphones of passengers," said Mr Kang.

    But back in Seoul yesterday, he conceded at a forum that it is not easy to nab the deal as "the Japanese and the Chinese have long been fighting a 'live-or-die' battle to win it," reported the Korea Economic Daily.

    "However, the government will do everything it can to seize this very big and pricey project," he emphasised.

    South Korea, which adopted the French system for its first-generation trains, is now ranked as the world's second-most efficient in running a HSR after Japan.

    South Korea first expressed interest last year to bid for the proposed 350km line which will link Bandar Malaysia, some 7km from Kuala Lumpur city centre, and Jurong East in Singapore.

    France and Germany are also lobbying for the project but China is in the lead to win the bid, according to some reports.

    A memorandum of understanding to facilitate the launch of the project - which is slated to be completed in 2022 - is expected to be signed next month by Malaysia and Singapore.