Dr Mahathir said Malaysia needs to rethink the 350km rail project.
Malaysia’s Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad clarified on Monday (11 June) that the Singapore-Kuala Lumpur High Speed Rail (HSR) was not really scrapped, but was instead temporarily delayed, reported the Nikkei Asian Review.
“There will be a need for a HSR in the future, probably right through the peninsula. But we cannot afford it at this moment. So, we actually postponed the implementation of the project,” he said.
More: 3 Reasons Why Scrapping The HSR Project May Be Bad For Jurong
He shared this when asked by the Japanese publication if the Malaysian government is willing to consider if Singapore negotiates for a scaled-down version of the HSR.
However, Mahathir reiterated that the new Pakatan Harapan government needs to closely look at the 350km rail project, which he estimates to cost RM110 billion (S$37 billion), amidst the huge federal debt of more than RM1 trillion (S$337.9 billion).
“High-speed trains are most effective where the distance is very long. But where the distance is short, it doesn’t contribute much. So we need to rethink HSR. We cannot say we will never have HSR in Malaysia,” he noted.
Meanwhile, Malaysia’s Transport Minister Anthony Loke revealed that he, along with Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng and Economic Affairs Minister Mohamed Azmin Ali, will go to Singapore to discuss the HSR.
Malaysia and Singapore had signed a bilateral deal in December 2016 to undertake the ambitious project, which was anticipated to reduce travel time between the city-state and Kuala Lumpur from four hours by car to only 1.5 hours.
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Romesh Navaratnarajah, Senior Editor at PropertyGuru, edited this story. To contact him about this or other stories, email email@example.com