Malaysia’s prime minister Mahathir Mohamad has admitted that construction of a high-speed railway with neighbour Singapore will likely be deferred and not axed as previously announced.
The 93-year-old was elected as Malaysia’s new leader back in May and soon stated that a “final decision” had been made to scrap the multi-billion dollar Kuala Lumpur–Singapore high-speed railway.
He said the 350km line was “not beneficial” and will cost “a huge sum of money”, adding that Malaysia “will make no money at all from” it.
Initially it was reported that a $125.5 million break clause had been included in a contract signed by the two nations in December 2016 but it now appears the financial penalty would be more substantial.
When questioned about his preference to either reduce the cost of or defer the high-speed project, PM Mahathir said: “At the moment, when we look at the financial situation of the country, we thought that we couldn’t go ahead with that but having studied it and the implication of unilaterally discarding the contract and cost of it too, we decided that we may have to do it at a later date or we may have to reduce the price.
“But reduction of the price I think is very difficult as far as we make out. So it will have to be deferred.”
Based on preliminary estimates, the Government of Singapore revealed that by the end of May 2018 its costs for the project had already exceeded S$250 million (∼$182 million).
Services on the high-speed line were originally scheduled to begin in December 2026.