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Siemens eyes high-speed link

   
The Velaro i the culmination of Siemens' efforts to achieve an average speed of 350kph for high-speed rail transport

TheEdgeDaily.com, 9 Apr 2007

In a Siemens-sponsored study conducted by MRC McLean Hazel and GlobeScan, this year will be the first time in history that more people will live in cities than in the countryside.

Hence, city planners have placed top priority on investment in transport infrastructure, deemed as the sector with the biggest impact on city competitiveness.

To the German engineering giant, this means huge opportunities and big money to come. As one of the world leaders in rail transport systems, Siemens has already gained a lead over its competitors.
In Malaysia, Siemens' partnership with YTL Corp is proving to be an effective strategy for it to be involved in the proposed construction of a high-speed rail link between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore.

As Friedrich Smaxwil, vice president of Group Transportation Systems Siemens AG, points out, "Having a good reference in a country is the best argument for us."

Siemens technology has been applied in both the KLIA rail link and Ipoh-Rawang double-tracking project.

With early feasibility studies carried out, the KL-Singapore high-speed link has been estimated to cost RM8.1 billion. So far, no commitment from either the government of Malaysia or Singapore has been made although it has been reported that Malaysia was very keen on it.

With the idea for the link still in its early days, Siemens managers are guarded in their comments.
Tim Hunter, the new head of Transportation Systems at Siemens Malaysia Sdn Bhd, was hesitant to say whether Siemens will be YTL's definite partner if the latter ultimately secures the job.


   
   (From left) Smaxwil: Having a good reference in a country is the best argument for us; Hunter: We're well qualified for the KL-Singapore high-speed link job

"It's early to say… I would like to think so, we think we're well qualified. We have had a long relationship with YTL," he told reporters at a Siemens event in Madrid.

Hunter notes that there will be competing technology partners, notably Alstom, Japanese contractors such as Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Bombardier, the Koreans and possibly even a Spanish company, should the proposal advance to the bidding stage.

One possible route for the line is the existing KTM route, although this would have to be upgraded extensively to meet the load, power supply and speed aims of a much more advanced train.

The trains are expected to be much wider so there will be significant amounts of land acquisition, for which both governments will have to provide backing in order for the rail link to be a success.

The KTM route, for instance, runs into the Tanjong Pagar district of Singapore. Although the land currently belongs to Malaysia, it would be impossible to operate a high-speed train without substantial widening of the tracks and tunnels.

Additionally, there have been suggestions that the link connects KLIA, Putrajaya and possibly even Melaka, Hunter says.

He adds that the biggest engineering challenge would be in building the link to cross the straits.
As with most infrastructure projects, the resulting social and economic impact is currently being studied. If priced at an optimum, a high-speed rail, which offers convenience and time-savings, can be very successful in attracting commuters currently travelling by bus, car and air.

For distances of up to 600 km between cities, high-speed rails have proven to be very effective in pinching market share (gaining up to 80%). Airlines will probably suffer most on these routes as passengers save on travelling time to the airport, avoid the hassle of check-in and the discomfort associated with air travel.




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