Questions raised on high speed rail viability

Romesh NavaratnarajahApril 19, 2016


Some lawmakers are unsure about the viability of the High Speed Rail project, which could cause issues between Singapore and Malaysia.

Some members from Johor’s opposition party have raised doubts about the feasibility of the Singapore-Kuala Lumpur High Speed Rail (HSR) project, due to its relatively lower Passenger Flow Volume (PFV), reported The Sun Daily.

According to Andrew Chen Kah Eng, State Assemblyman for Stulang, Johor, the HSR’s forecasted annual number of commuters stands at 18 million, based on data cited by the Prime Minister’s Department.

“How much can we charge per-trip with such low PFV? The pricing is an important parameter, if we charge too low, the operator will be in trouble. If we charge too high, we will face a passenger problem.”

In comparison, he noted that two other HSR projects in Asia, each with a length of around 300 km, have a higher number of travellers.

For instance, the Shanghai–Nanjing Intercity High-Speed Railway is used by 105 million commuters per year, with tickets priced at RM150 (S$52) apiece, while the HSR linking Taipei and Tainan has a yearly PFV of around 50 million, with one-way trips costing RM180 (S$62) each.

In addition, if an individual can purchase a return ticket from Singapore to Penang for just RM200 (S$69), why would anyone ride the HSR if it’s more expensive, noted Johor opposition leader, Gan Peck Cheng.

The Malaysian authorities are finalising the draft alignment of the large-scale project in time for the signing of the memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Singapore government in July.

It has been mooted that the HSR’s coastal draft alignment should pass through transit points in Seremban, Ayer Keroh, Muar, Batu Pahat and Iskandar Puteri.


Romesh Navaratnarajah, Senior Editor at PropertyGuru, edited this story. To contact him about this or other stories, email


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