The proposed Kuala Lumpur-Johor High-Speed Rail (HSR) project would cause huge losses for Malaysia in the long run, warns a transport expert.
Transport planning consultant Rosli Azad Khan believes the KL-Johor route is not economically wise and Singapore’s exclusion only makes the project unsustainable, reported Free Malaysia Today (FMT).
The government had recently announced that the study on the project had already been completed and will be submitted to the Cabinet.
Replacing the earlier planned KL-Singapore HSR project, the line will connect Kuala Lumpur to Johor’s Iskandar Puteri.
Rosli noted that the project will require the country to import all materials – “everything from rails to signalling systems, coaches and, even nuts and bolts”.
“All the capital expenditure will flow out to pay for the costs,” he told FMT. “Therefore the country’s economy will not benefit from such a project.”
Former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak had also warned the government of the compensation it would have to pay the HSR operator yearly.
Najib also pointed that the cost for the new line – reportedly at RM63 billion to RM65 billion – is not too far from the original cost for the KL-Singapore HSR, at RM60 billion to RM68 billion.
And without Singapore, the number of expected passengers to use the line would drop from 8.4 million per year to just 4.2 million per year by 2031, said Najib.
Rosli also noted that the KL-Johor HSR line will make other railway projects within Johor redundant, citing the Gemas-Johor Bahru electric double-tracking rail project that is set to be completed in October 2022.
“What will happen to the KTMB double tracks between Gemas and JB? Are we building two competing railways?,” he asked.
“Who will benefit from the project and will there be enough passengers to fill the capacity of both railways, running almost parallel with each other?”