I agree that funding the Malaysia-Singapore high-speed rail (HSR) will be a challenge.
Given that the projected costs are substantial, funding of such magnitude is best left to a state-investment model, whereby the system is publicly funded, and management delegated to a specialised firm.
Given the operational complexity and requisite expertise, existing HSR operators would be the most suitable candidates to supply a complete system under a turnkey model at competitive prices and favourable terms to make the project cost-effective.
Countries that have exported HSR technology in this manner, such as France and Japan, have offered financial incentives and assistance to clients to ease cost pressures. I would also not rule out China as a possible partner and system supplier.
Land acquisition costs are also an issue, complicated by the project’s cross-border nature. This has been at the root of delays in various HSR projects. It would thus be expedient to have a standard pricing algorithm to settle potential disputes.
I am also concerned about the lack of proposals so far for ensuring a positive travelling experience. The HSR’s overall success will lie in its benefits in travel time and cost for trans-border commuters, so let us not replicate the existing long queues at border control.
To achieve near borderless travel for Singaporeans and Malaysians, the authorities could implement a two-hall configuration: One to serve foreigners, the other to allow locals of both countries to obtain expedited clearance using a biometric passport tap-and-go system.
Simple, reliable security procedures and hassle-free, economical and convenient journeys are required to make the Singapore-KL HSR a truly appealing option.
Source: Today Online
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