Seven groups, comprising a total of 31 firms from Malaysia and international entities, have submitted their concept proposals. This development marks a crucial turning point in Malaysia’s persistent efforts to resurrect the initiative, which has faced uncertainties and delays over the years.
The submissions came in response to a Request for Information (RFI) exercise orchestrated by MyHSR Corporation Sdn Bhd (MyHSR Corp). This corporation, owned by the Minister of Finance (Incorporated) and overseen by Malaysia’s Transport Ministry, holds the responsibility for steering the development and execution of the KL-SG HSR project. The proposed approach involves a public-private partnership model, specifically the Design-Finance-Build-Operate-Transfer (DFBOT) framework.
Fauzi Abdul Rahman, the Chairman of MyHSR Corp, stated that the findings from the RFI evaluation would be presented to the Ministry of Transport and the Cabinet for careful consideration. A positive response is anticipated to propel the project into the next phase, marked by the Request for Proposal (RFP) stage. This is where detailed proposals will be solicited from the selected consortia, marking a critical step toward materializing the high-speed rail vision.
Among the anticipated contributors to the project are prominent Malaysian conglomerates YTL Group and Berjaya Group. Additionally, industry insiders suggest the involvement of key players like Malaysian Resources Corp Bhd, Econpile Holdings Bhd, and Gamuda Bhd. The RFI process, beyond evaluating technical expertise, aims to assess the ability to develop and operate the railway within budgeted constraints. Furthermore, participating firms are required to present viable business and commercial models, along with appropriate frameworks for project governance.
The KL-SG HSR project, boasting a length of 350km and a top speed of 350km/h, was initially proposed in 2013. The subsequent binding agreement in December 2016 aimed for the line to be operational by 2026. However, due to multiple postponements at Malaysia’s request, the project was discontinued, and the agreement lapsed in December 2020. Malaysia paid over S$102 million (US$76.46 million) in compensation to Singapore for the terminated project.
The resurgence of interest in the project gained momentum after Malaysia Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim assumed power following the 2022 general elections. During his visit to Singapore last year, discussions with Singapore leaders opened the door for potential collaboration. In a positive gesture, Singapore expressed its willingness to discuss any new proposals from Malaysia for the KL-SG HSR project, signalling a potential fresh start for this ambitious transnational endeavour.