China front runner in Malaysian high-speed rail project

Kuala Lumpur, April 3 (IANS) Chinese companies are widely considered as front runner for the proposed high-speed railway project linking the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur and Singapore, the media reported on Sunday.

A series of recent investments by Chinese state-owned companies have helped to lay the ground for the bid for the 350-km high-speed railway, which could cost RM70 billion, The Star Online reported.

In March, China Railway Group Limited (CREC), one of China’s largest state-owned companies, announced a $2 billion investment to build its regional headquarter in Bandar Malaysia, the proposed terminal for the Kuala Lumpur to Singapore line.

The announcement came three months after CREC’s successful bid with its Malaysian joint-venture partner in December to acquire 60 percent equity in the Bandar Malaysia project.

One of the advantages of the Chinese side is the experience of working with Malaysia on the latter’s regular railway system and light rail transit projects, according to The Star.

Chinese companies have supplied about 75 to 80 percent of the locomotives and coaches and related equipment to Malaysia.

China Railway Rolling Stock Corporation (CRRC) has built a manufacturing centre for Southeast Asia in Malaysia.

Despite being a latecomer in high-speed railway, China has developed the most cost-effective rail system in the world, thanks to China’s research and development on major train projects and super lengthy tracks, said Goh Bok Yen, a well-known transportation planning consultant.

However, Goh said that it was far from a done deal as the project remains in an early stage.

The governments of Malaysia and Singapore are expected to finalise the commercial model and procurement approach of the project by this year.

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