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Lawmakers last Friday approved the RM38.4 billion high speed rail (HSR) project which will connect Malaysia and Singapore and drive growth in the Iskandar Malaysia economic corridor.
The government now has the mandate and funding needed to set up MyHSR Corp Sdn Bhd, the company that will undertake the construction of the system. As an initial investment, Ministry of Finance Inc will invest in 10 million shares of MyHSR Corp for RM1 per share.
Construction is expected to begin in 2016, with services operational by 2020. As development of the Iskandar Malaysia economic corridor enters its next stage, the case for the proposed HSR has never been stronger.
At the recent launch of the second phase of the RM42 billion gross development value Gerbang Nusajaya, touted as the gateway township to the region due to its proximity to Singapore, its developers and the regional authority made presentations on the HSR and underscored how it would drive occupation and development in the region.
“The HSR will have a significant impact on population growth in Iskandar,” says DTZ Malaysia consultancy and research head Brian Koh. Within Gerbang Nusajaya itself, Koh predicts a 44% increase in the township’s population if the HSR is completed.
“The key success factor for Iskandar is connectivity. The HSR must happen to ensure Iskandar continues to grow, not just from an economic perspective, but also from the stakeholder’s perspective,” said Datuk Ismail Ibrahim, CEO of the Iskandar Regional Development Authority.
He said the HSR would be complemented with an efficient bus rapid transit (BRT) system, which he said would be faster to implement and make more fiscal sense in the region.
“But by 2025, if we reached a certain critical point (in demand), we might want to upgrade the BRT to MRT (mass rapid transit,” he said.
A property analyst told The Malaysian Reserve the HSR could entice younger workers to stay in Iskandar and travel home to other states or Singapore during the holidays or weekends.
“The HSR would fit in with the government’s plans to increase the population of Johor, which is the key factor in driving up the state’s economy,” she says.
“It could be said the success of Iskandar does hinge on the rail project.” The proposed project will feature trains that travel at speeds of up to 250 km/h and will transport passengers from Kuala Lumpur to Singapore in just 90 minutes, with stops in Putrajaya, Negri Sembilan, Malacca and Johor.
Said to be South-East Asia’s most ambitious infrastructure project, the HSR is expected to unlock the full potential of Iskandar, which is expected to see full completion in 2025. Last month, Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told Malaysia’s Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhiyuddin Yassin that Japanese rail firms were very interested in getting involved in the project.
Japan’s famed Shinkansen network features train speeds of up to 320km/h, transporting more than five billion passengers throughout its operational service, and Muhiyuddin has reportedly expressed the government’s interest in using Japanese technology for the project.