Doubts raised over benefits of High Speed Rail

Ajit-Johl_train_600

PETALING JAYA: Will the Kuala Lumpur–Singapore High Speed Rail (HSR) really be of benefit to Malaysians?

This is the question Public Transport Users Association (4PAM) president Ajit Johl raised about the mega project, expected to cost between RM50 to RM60 billion.

Ajit told FMT that he had concerns about the feasibility and sustainability of the project, and believed the funds meant for the project could be better spent on upgrading and expanding public transport networks within the country.

“The HSR will cost some RM50 to RM60 billion so we can travel from Singapore to KL and vice-versa within 90 minutes.

“Is that 90 minutes just to go from one point to another? What about immigration checks? How long will that take?”

He said this was one of many concerns he had, especially since the HSR involved travelling from one country to another.

Ajit said that if the total journey, including immigration checks took more than 90 minutes, then the rationale of spending so much money would be questionable as it would make more sense to fly.

“The pricing of airline tickets are very competitive nowadays and with the Asean Skies Policy, the industry is opened up even more, increasing competition and this can make flights even cheaper.”

He said if HSR tickets were not distinctively cheaper than airline tickets, or if the total travel time was not that much different than flying, then there may be little incentive for people to opt for the HSR.

Ajit said if this were the case, it would be better to facilitate travel to Singapore through more frequent flights to and fro the island republic.

“How many people actually go to and from Singapore on a daily basis from KL to Singapore? How many of these people will opt for the HSR rather than flying?

“To me, it would be better for all Malaysians, if the money is spent to upgrade and expand inter- and intra-city KTM and LRT lines. This would be more beneficial to all Malaysians.”

The HSR, which can travel at a top speed of 300 kph, will have eight stations – terminals in Bandar Malaysia and Singapore, and six intermediate stations in Putrajaya, Seremban, Ayer Keroh, Muar, Batu Pahat and Iskandar Puteri.

It was previously reported that international-bound passengers will need to undergo clearance by both Malaysia and Singapore authorities only at the point of departure, and not at the point of arrival.