The Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High Speed Rail bilateral agreement was signed in December 2016, setting the stage for design and construction work of the project. With a 2026 completion target, the 350km rail link will significantly cut travel time from Kuala Lumpur to Singapore to just 90 minutes.
We had the opportunity to sit down with Mr. Tonny Yeap, Director, Commercial Division of MyHSR Corporation, at Asia Pacific Rail 2017 in Hong Kong in March, to find out more about this exciting project.
What are the key plans in the next 5-10 years?
Our key plan is to develop the organisation to a point where we have sufficient resources to manage the project end-to-end. Our primary focus for the next few years will be to get many key items off the ground, starting with land acquisition, profiling and promoting the technology management package known as AssetsCo, which will be an international tender. Domestically, we need to focus on getting the civil works off the ground. That will keep us busy for the next 5 years, at least.
How much land will be acquired for this project?
To give you a sense of scale, the alignment is approximately 350km, of which 335km is in Malaysia. We will need about 7 pieces of large land for the stations, and another 2 or 3 pieces for the depot or maintenance facilities. The rest of it will be for the right of way or the alignment itself. That will be the amount of land that we will need to acquire because this HSR will be operating on a new dedicated alignment so we need to look for new space for it.
What are the new solutions/technologies you will be looking into?
In terms of technology, we have the opportunity to adopt almost any of the technology out there given that the HSR is running on a dedicated line. What we have agreed with Singapore as the best way to select the technology is to put forward an international tender also known as AssetsCo. The AssetsCo tender will provide an opportunity to international technology leaders to make the best offer.
What are the key challenges of the project?
One of the biggest challenges is finding people with expertise in the high speed rail industry as the industry is not known in this part of the world, or in Malaysia at least. As the project evolves from design to construction and eventually operation, we constantly need to reassess resource and skillset requirements. Niche and specialised resource for critical areas, will be supplemented by consulting firms.
Secondly, we will need to manage land acquisition. Since the highway project was implemented back in the 80s, the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore HSR is the next project that spans across multiple states and federal territories. The scale of land acquisitions and stakeholders involved in the project will be massive and that will require a lot of coordination.
Lastly, as we enter the implementation stage, more people will be curious about the project. The issue is how do we educate them about the HSR? More importantly, how do we manage the stakeholders whose land have been affected by the project as well as the public who live near the HSR during construction. Therefore, we would be putting a lot of effort into managing the stakeholders.
What kind of HSRs in the world are you looking at as a gauge or learning model?
We surveyed various HSR model and technology in the world, and many have worked well. If I were to look at Japan, they are known for their efficiency, punctuality and high quality trains. That’s worth learning from and used as a benchmark. If I look at China, they have grown to be one of the largest HSR networks in the world in less than 10 years. It’s all about how they efficiently implement and build the system and their management of mega projects. The best learning lesson from the European HSR is their interoperability. It’s worth learning how they manage multiple components or companies that contribute to the ecosystem. At the same time, Europe has a more sophisticated business model, where they have the ability to separate the network and infrastructure from train operations yet they are able to operate seamlessly and cohesively. Each has their own strength. What we want to do is to identify all of these and to see how we can adopt it in our own project.
How did you find the event?
It’s my first time here. I have been to a few other events elsewhere. This event stood out with the level of sophistication in organising the speakers’ presentation, using technology to connect us to potential visitors. That is quite clever and something that I haven’t seen in other events before. The event itself is useful as a platform to promote technologies in this part of the world. Asia is certainly the focus for many in the railway industry.
Want to find out the latest updates in the Asia-Pacific rail industry? Join us at Asia Pacific Rail 2018 to meet the rail leaders.