Three possible sites for terminal of S'pore-KL rail
SINGAPORE has named three possible locations on the island for the terminal of the planned high-speed rail between Singapore and Kuala Lumpur.
They are Tuas West, Jurong East and the city centre, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said, adding that a decision will be made "within the next year or so''.
For Malaysia, the terminal will be located in Bandar Malaysia, at the current site of its air force base in Sungai Besi, said Prime Minister Najib Razak.
The site, about 15km from the Petronas Twin Towers, has been earmarked for redevelopment.
Both leaders announced the progress made on the rail link, targeted to be ready by 2020, at a joint media conference that wrapped up a two-day leaders' retreat in Kuala Lumpur.
To further improve connectivity, a single border checkpoint is also being explored, with both the Singapore and Malaysia Customs, Immigration and Quarantine (CIQ) complex being sited at one location.
The high-speed rail was proposed at last February's retreat in Singapore, and yesterday PM Lee said Tuas West is being considered because of its closeness to the border, while Jurong East is set to become "a very major transportation, economic and financial zone for Singapore".
The city centre would be "ideal", but is also the most challenging because of the cost and size of the land required, he added.
Both leaders stressed the ambitious scale and form of the rail project, which is expected to slash travel time to just 90 minutes.
PM Lee noted that many areas need to be settled: from design, finance and governance, to security and immigration requirements.
"These are things we must work at, and the officials must work at, in a very focused way to get all of the pieces to fall into place in good time in order to get the project done."
When asked if there was a need to push back the 2020 target date, Mr Najib said it was too early to revise it. Also, the target was intentionally set at the start "to be ambitious'' in order to focus both sides on it, he added.
As for the proposed single border checkpoint, Mr Najib said it can be seen working between France and Britain, and between Germany and Poland.
"It will be the first in this part of the world,'' he noted.
PM Lee, however, said the checkpoint can be done for the high-speed rail as well as the Rapid Transit System (RTS) being built between Singapore and Johor Baru, as it can be built from scratch.
But it would be more difficult at the two existing road links because separate CIQ buildings already exist, he added.
A "friendship bridge" as an additional road link is also a possibility, but that would be far into the future, both leaders stressed.
Currently, there are two road links: one at the Causeway and the other at Tuas.
PM Lee said Singapore's focus is on improving efficiency at the two checkpoints, where the queues are "very long". Having multi-purpose vehicle bays, and biometric scans have helped, but more can be done, he added.
As for the RTS between Singapore and Johor Baru, 27 options are being considered, Mr Najib said, adding that a decision on where to locate the stations would be made "in the coming months".
THE STRAITS TIMES