PUTRAJAYA: Malaysia hopes to speed up the revival of the High Speed Railway (HSR) project with Singapore at the earliest date, which will involve some changes, says Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob.

The Prime Minister said Transport Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong was currently in discussions with his Singaporean counterpart S. Iswaran on the matter.

Should the project be revived, he said it would involve some changes, including the terms and conditions.

“It is an ongoing discussion. If possible, we want it to be sped up because Malaysia also has plans for a HSR between Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok. If possible, we want to link Bangkok-KL and KL-Singapore,” he said.

Ismail Sabri said he envisaged that the train line could go up to China as both China and Thailand are also in the process of building high speed rails.

Asked if reviving the project was a priority for his administration, Ismail Sabri said: “Not to say priority since the planning was already there – right from the start, right from BN’s (Barisan Nasional) time, planning was completed, only stopped for a while.”

As the cost of raw materials had been going up, Malaysia, he said, might consider reducing the size of the stations to keep in check the overall cost of the project.

On Nov 29, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong reportedly said that the republic was open to any new proposal from Malaysia on the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore HSR although both countries had earlier agreed to terminate the project.

Malaysia and Singapore inked bilateral agreements for the HSR project on Dec 13, 2016.

The 350km railway line, which was to have been completed in 2026, would reduce the travel time between both destinations to 90 minutes.

However, the project was put on the back burner in September 2018 with both sides agreeing to shelf the bilateral project worth RM110bil until Dec 31, 2020.

On Jan 1, 2021, Malaysia and Singapore jointly announced the termination of the HSR project as no agreement was reached on the changes proposed by Malaysia and the fact that the agreement had expired on Dec 31, 2020.

On March 2021, Malaysia announced that it had paid S$102.8mil (RM330.3mil) to Singapore for the cost incurred by the republic for the development of HSR and the delays involved.

The Prime Minister said the government was also looking into the need for a third link between Johor and Singapore to reduce the congestion at the Johor Causeway and the Second Link (Linkedua).

“It is still at the planning stages, we will see if there is a need for it,” he said.