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S'pore lists 3 sites for high-speed rail link with KL
Publication Date : 08-04-2014
Singapore has named three possible locations on the island for the terminal of the planned high- speed rail link between Singapore and Kuala Lumpur.
They are Tuas West, Jurong East and the city centre, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said, and a decision will be made "within the next year or so".
For Malaysia, the terminal will be located in Bandar Malaysia, at the current site of its air force base in Sungai Besi, said Prime Minister Najib Razak.
The site, about 5km from the Petronas Twin Towers, has been earmarked for redevelopment.
They announced the progress made on the rail link, targeted to be ready by 2020, at a joint media conference that wrapped up a two-day leaders' retreat here.
Transport links and the development of the Iskandar region in Johor seem to have been the focus of the latest meeting, part of bilateral talks held regularly by leaders of both countries since 2007.
They also said a new initiative is being explored: a single border checkpoint, with both the Singapore and Malaysia Customs, Immigration and Quarantine (CIQ) complexes sited at one location.
They emphasised the need to cooperate to develop the Iskandar Malaysia project, which will benefit both economies. Pinpointing manufacturing, Lee said it will create better jobs for both sides.
The rail link was proposed at the retreat in Singapore in February last year. Yesterday, Lee said Tuas West is being considered due to its closeness to the border while Jurong East is set to become a "major transportation, economic and financial zone for Singapore". The city centre would be "ideal", but is the most challenging due to the cost and size of the land required, he added.
Lee noted that many areas of the rail project need to be settled: from design, finance and governance, to security and immigration requirements. "These are things we must work at, and the officials must work at, in a very focused way to get all of the pieces to fall into place in good time in order to get the project done."
When asked if there was a need to push back the 2020 target date, Datuk Seri Najib said it was too early to revise it. The target was intentionally set at the start "to be ambitious" so as to get both sides to focus on it, he added.
As for the proposed single border checkpoint, Najib said it can be seen working between France and Britain, and between Germany and Poland. "It will be the first in this part of the world."
Lee said the checkpoint can be done for the high-speed rail link and the proposed Rapid Transit System (RTS) between Singapore and Johor Baru, as it can be built from scratch. But it would be more difficult at existing road links - at the Causeway and Tuas - as separate CIQ buildings already exist, he added.
A "friendship bridge" as an additional road link is also a possibility, but that would be far into the future, both leaders stressed.
Lee said Singapore's focus is on improving the efficiency at the two checkpoints, where the queue is "very long".
As for the RTS between Singapore and Johor Baru, 27 options are being considered, Najib said, adding that a decision on where to locate the stations would be made "in the coming months".
Both leaders also said they look forward to the state visit of Malaysia's King and Queen to Singapore from April 29 to May 2.