High-speed rail to make living in KL while working in Singapore possible

The RTS has the capacity of up to 10,000 passengers per hour in each direction, which translates to an additional 60,000 commuters crossing the Causeway during peak hours. Source: Shutterstock

BY 2026, Malaysia and Singapore will have a high-speed rail (HSR) link that will cut ground travel time between Kuala Lumpur and the city-state to about 90 minutes from the current four- to five-hour road journey.

On Tuesday, Malaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak and his Singaporean counterpart Lee Hsien Loong signed the Rapid Transit System (RTS) agreement as part of an effort to increase connectivity links between the neighbouring countries.

The RTS is a 4km shuttle that will connect public transport services in the southernmost city of Johor Baru and Singapore, which will later be linked to the over 350km Kuala Lumpur-Singapore high-speed rail (HSR) project.

According to The Star, the RTS has the capacity of up to 10,000 passengers per hour in each direction, which translates to an additional 60,000 commuters crossing the Causeway during peak hours.

With a top speed of over 300 kph (186 mph), the HSR will have eight stations. The seven in Malaysia are Bandar Malaysia, Bangi-Putrajaya, Seremban, Melaka, Muar, Batu Pahat and Iskandar Puteri.

Both the RTS and HSR would be served by four trains per hour – two offering an express service between Bandar Malaysia and Jurong East that runs every 30 minutes, and two that stop at all seven stations within Malaysia, Today Online reported.

The RTS has the capacity of up to 10,000 passengers per hour in each direction.

The high-speed rail valued by analysts at about US$17 billion is the biggest project undertaken by the Southeast Asian neighbours in recent years, and will test a relationship that has been frosty since the end of the colonial era in the 1960s.

About 90 percent of the rail network is in Malaysia, and Najib’s government has agreed to pay for its share of the line itself. Yet to be decided, however, are other costs like building and maintaining the rolling stock.

“The formula is, whatever you need to build from your station right up to the international boundary, it’s your cost,” said Abdul Rahman Dahlan, a minister in Najib’s government.

Discussions between officials from the two countries had gone smoothly so far, according to Abdul Rahman.

“It’s moving, our timeline is on. I don’t see any big issues at the moment,” he said when asked about the project’s timeline.

Additional reporting by Reuters