Singapore’s Ministry of Transport said it will discuss with Malaysia “its assessment that realistically the project may take beyond 2020 to complete”, reported the media.
The statement follows a Bloomberg interview of Malaysia’s Land Public Transport Commission Chairman Syed Hamid Albar, in which he said the high-speed rail (HSR) project may need six to seven years to complete once construction commences by 2016.
This implies a delay of two to three years beyond the 2020 deadline earlier announced by Malaysia Prime Minister Najib Razak and his Singapore counterpart Lee Hsien Loong. Notably, the rail link was unveiled by the two leaders in 2013 and is expected to reduce travel time between the two cities to 90 minutes.
Syed Hamid explained that there may be problems with the original timeline since the governments may have to consider other factors in addition to construction.
“I suspect the (Malaysia) government is at the stage where they are mulling over the financing of this project. How are they going to do this without affecting the target on fiscal deficit and achieving a balanced budget by 2020?” he said.
Commenting on Syed Hamid’s statements, Singapore’s Transport Ministry said: “As far as we know, we are still working towards project completion by 2020 as agreed by the two Prime Ministers. We have not received any indication from Malaysia that it intends to delay the project beyond 2020. Our feasibility studies are on track to be completed next year and bilateral discussions with Malaysia are ongoing.”