Kuala Lumpur, 6 July 2006
Transport Minister Datuk Seri Chan Kong Choy today confirmed that the Ministry had indeed asked YTL Corporation Berhad to conduct a study and submit a proposal for an express rail link between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore.
The Minister said YTL had indicated informally that the project is feasible and therefore his ministry had asked for the construction consortium to provide a detailed financial and engineering proposal.
YTL Corporation managing director Tan Sri (Dr) Francis Yeoh grabbed attention of international news yesterday when Malaysian daily New Straits Times (NST) front-paged an interview where Yeoh spoke about the project that would enable travellers to shuttle between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore in 90 minutes.
The news created widespread excitement across the world as news agencies circulated the interview. Among the various positive responses to the NST report included one from Yong PF of Petaling Jaya who wrote: "If there is a bullet train that can take me to Singapore in 90 minutes safely, count me as a regular. I travel almost on a monthly basis to Singapore as flying is such a hassle, now that KLIA is 50 minutes away. Taking a bus is such a pain as it takes forever! Albeit, it is really cost effective. Taking a train from Sentral would be ideal. Round trip, I would pay RM400 thereabouts."
Sylvester of Johor Bahru wrote to NST, saying: "With this bullet train service, we can stay in KL and travel to work in Singapore every day. It will also boost the economy of both KL and Singapore as citizens can travel more often between both points without the headache of the never-ending traffic jam at the causeway."
Peter Lim who wrote in from Dunedin, New Zealand said: "I think this new High Speed Express Train between KL to Singapore will help to reduce the use of cars and travel by flight and buses, it will then make your daily travel trip so that it will save time on accommodation. It will be fast so that commuters who go to work or holiday can travel anytime or daily, whenever they need to. This High Speed Express train will the best for the future."
This morning, a leading Chinese radio station in Malaysia, Radio Redi on 98.8FM's morning show featured listeners who called in or sent phone messages to discuss the proposal for the bullet train. A caller, Jeff, said the idea was pretty good, adding that the connectivity would bring an increase of tourists. He hoped the bullet train would offer a luxurious travel and travellers would be willing to fork out the money to experience the unique mode of transport.
Across the Causeway, the Singaporean Straits Times quoted CMS Dresdner Asset Management fund manager Scott Lim: "The traffic between the two countries is huge, so if you talk about the dollars and cents, there's a viable business to be done."
"I'm sure there's demand for it," said Gerald Ambrose, a fund manager at Aberdeen Asset Management. YTL's 57km express rail from the airport to the Malaysian capital "is extremely efficient, and everybody would be happier getting a fast link from Kuala Lumpur to Singapore."
The NST report stated, if approved, the project would be the largest on a private finance initiative (PFI) basis, as encouraged under the Ninth Malaysia Plan.
It added that construction would take three years, but it could be two years before the necessary cross-border approvals and land acquisition could be obtained.
Datuk Seri Chan Kong Choy's statement corrected NSTís article today, which reported that the Transport Ministry had not received the said proposal.
In a quick telephone interview, Yeoh said YTL Corp will be submitting the detailed proposal to the Ministry soon.