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    Jul 20, 2016

    S'pore-KL rail likely to be ready in 10 years

    THE much-anticipated High Speed Rail project to connect Singapore and Kuala Lumpur is targeted to be up and running in about 10 years' time, cutting travel time between the cities to 11/2 hours compared with four hours by road.

    The 2026 target deadline is among several points agreed upon in a memorandum of understanding (MOU) that will pave the way for more detailed planning of the ambitious rail link.

    The MOU was signed in Putrajaya yesterday and witnessed by Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his Malaysian counterpart Najib Razak.

    It will guide the crafting of a legally binding bilateral agreement to be signed by both governments towards the end of this year.

    "There are one or two issues and some details that still need to be worked out but the main picture is there," said PM Lee at a joint press conference after the MOU was signed by Coordinating Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan and Malaysian Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Abdul Rahman Dahlan.

    Some of its key points of agreement include the types of services, how the rail system will be run and where responsibility for its assets, such as the trains and tracks, will lie.

    These were disclosed in a joint statement by Singapore's Land Transport Authority and Malaysia's Land Public Transport Commission,

    Three services will run along the rail line with eight stations, of which only one will be in Singapore - at Jurong East where Jurong Country Club now stands.

    These are: an express service between the two end-stations - Jurong East in Singapore and Bandar Malaysia in KL; a shorter shuttle service connecting Singapore and Iskandar Puteri in Johor; and a domestic service linking the seven stations in Malaysia.

    To run the cross-border services, a train operating company will be appointed via an international tender.

    Likewise, another new company will be appointed by international tender and will run the Malaysian service covering Iskandar Puteri, Batu Pahat, Muar, Ayer Keroh, Seremban, Putrajaya and KL.

    Travelling at a speed of more than 300kmh, the train service will bring both cities closer, said both leaders.

    Passengers will also be able to clear customs, immigration and quarantine faster. They will have to do so only once at the point of departure, and not upon arrival as well.

    These facilities will be co-located at the Singapore, Iskandar Puteri and Kuala Lumpur stations.

    "But we are all committed to putting full attention to this because we want this major bilateral project to be done right," he added.