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Bandar Malaysia key to high-speed rail link

Publication Date : 17-04-2014


Plans to build a much-anticipated high-speed rail link between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore will gather steam once the Malaysian government can get a 196ha Bandar Malaysia project off the ground as its main train station in the country.

Right now, experts say, the government is working out the kinks of financing the project and how to move the military and police airbase off the site of the former Kuala Lumpur International Airport.

"There's nothing stopping the government from getting it off the ground, just conditions to be met," said property analyst Previndran Singhe, who founded Zerin Properties.  He said the spot is owned by the Ministry of Defence, used by the military and home to the police's air unit. It also hosts a sensitive radar facility.

Last month, sovereign wealth fund 1Malaysia Development said it plans to sell 2.4 billion ringgit (US$740 million) in Islamic bonds to pay to relocate these facilities.

Plans call for Bandar Malaysia, 3.5km from the Petronas Twin Towers, to have malls, condominiums, colleges, parks and offices and to enjoy links to the upcoming mass rapid transit.

"For it to have a lot of customers, the main MRT Circle Line should be integrated with the high-speed rail, which will intersect with all the LRT, KTM and MRT lines," said property market researcher Ho Chin Soon.

The future Bandar Malaysia is a quiet area with buffers, including storm drains and grasslands, fenced off from highways, residential areas and the Kwong Tong Chinese Cemetery, which enjoys preserved heritage status.

Land values around the project are  expected to shoot up in the years before the Bandar Malaysia and high-speed rail projects' slated completion in 2020.

The route the track will take is still being finalised, but property analysts expect it will run near major urban centres in Negeri Sembilan, Malacca and Johor.

It is still unclear where the substations will be built between Bandar Malaysia and Nusajaya in Johor but Ho says the stations will likely be constructed some distance away from city centres and fed by bus services.

"That solves the land acquisition problems," he said. " Outside the cities, the lands are cheaper."

Prime ministers Lee Hsien Loong and Najib Razak in their latest bilateral meeting on April 7 reiterated that the entire high-speed rail project will be completed as scheduled in 2020.

The 330km project is expected to cost both governments about 39.8 billion ringgit ($12 billion) and will slash travel time between Kuala Lumpur to Singapore to just 90 minutes, compared with a four-hour drive.

Singapore's Land Transport Authority last Friday called a tender to study the engineering feasibility of developing the Singapore leg of the project. Three possible terminal locations have been identified - Tuas West, Jurong East and the city centre. Malaysia is expected to call for tender at the end of the year.

Najib said then that the "ambitious" project has entered the first phase - a study of the way the line will be linked to a proposed rail transit system connecting Singapore and Johor Baru.

In Nusajaya, the project could pass through a station at Malaysia's second Formula 1 track. To be built by Singaporean billionaire Peter Lim, the 3.2 billion ringgit FASTrack Iskandar, the largest of its kind in Southeast Asia, is due to open in 2016. It is part of Motorsports City, which will cover 109ha and include showrooms, garages and entertainment outlets.

Nizam Nadzri of the government's Economic Planning Unit overseeing the project said: "At this stage in time, a series of consultations is under way within the relevant ministries and agencies in Malaysia, and with their counterparts in Singapore."


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