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Governments sign Kuala Lumpur to Singapore high speed rail agreement

The governments of Singapore and Malaysia have signed an agreement for the development of a high speed rail line between the two countries.14 Dec 2016

A double-track line will be constructed between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore, Singapore's Land Transport Authority and Malaysia's Land Public Transport Commission said in a joint statement on how the project will be tendered.

Singapore based projects expert Ian Laing of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law.com said: "The agreement is understood to cover the technical, safety and security requirements for the project, along with the commercial, financing, procurement and regulatory frameworks and the customs, immigration and quarantine arrangements. Clearly significant progress has been made since a memorandum of understanding was signed on 19 July and a number of structurally critically issues appear to have been progressed."

The line is designed to accommodate all types of conventional high-speed rail trains and technology available in the market with a design speed of 350 km/h, the statement said

Such a "system neutral" approach is likely to be critical in ensuring competitive pricing for the contract, Laing said.

Malaysia and Singapore will jointly call a tender for a privately-financed assets company to design, build, finance and maintain rolling stock and to design, build, finance, operate and maintain rail assets including track-work, power, signalling and telecommunications in 2017.

Joint customs, immigration and quarantine facilities at the three main stations on the line will mean that international passengers will only need to undergo clearance at their point of departure, the statement said.

"That will be a critical success factor in terms of passenger experience and delivery of the 90 minute journey time," Laing said.

"Mega projects such as this require the kind of strong political will that has been evidenced by the signing of the agreement. It will need to be maintained," he said.