40 minutes extra, RM50 billion lower. Alternative HSR plan. Viable?

Let’s be objective. The typical bullet train I have in mind should run above 300km per hour. I have only taken the Shinkansen extensively thus far. They run at around 320km per hour. Why do I say so? These are the usual high-speed rails around the world for understanding. Numbers are in miles so to convert to km, it’s just times 1.6 yeah. The slowest of these would be the one connecting Amsterdam, Brussels, Paris, and Cologne with multiple daily services called Thalys. Read here for the full article please. Nice reading. It’s speed is nearly 300km per hour. All these are existing services which meant that in the future, the top 10 list will surely change and the speed is unlikely to go lower yeah. The proposed operating speed for our very own HSR KL – SG was 320 km per hour. This meant that if the top 10 list does not change much, then it will squeeze itself into the top 10 list at No.9 jointly with Eurostar e320 and TGV. Speed is however not the deal-breaker yeah. Let’s look at the financial side and we must also maintain some objectivity in terms of purpose and benefits.

There’s an article in TheStar today: RM50bil cheaper alternative to KL-S’pore high speed rail. The article says that financially, there’s the huge RM50 billion savings plus we do not need to pay a RM500 million cancellation fee. The way to do it is by upgrading the present infrastructure; utilising the existing double-track infrastructure of Keretapi Tanah Melayu (KTM). Sources say that the Council of Eminent Persons (CEP) has been briefed on this alternative plan. A very nice image by TheStar. ‘HSR vs upgrade of existing rail network. Percentage wise, this is 70 percent lower costs versus the current original plan. Other benefits include, “The upgrading of the existing railway tracks would involve minimal land acquisition, minimal disruption to existing system and complement the entire national railway network. The article quoted our PM, Tun Dr Mahathir who said that the distance between Malaysia and Singapore is short at only 350km and if the existing railway infrastructure is upgraded, it can improve travel time significantly. Estimated travel time is going to be an extra 40 minutes. (By the way, jams at the Causeway during holiday seasons are much longer than 40 minutes.)  There are other references on how the tracks would be upgraded. Read TheStar article here. 

Okay, so what do readers of think? It does seem like a good alternative right? Personally, we need to think a little further than just a connection between KL and SG. This is rail. It’s not like a flight where it must be a significant point to point yeah. My next article will focus on a question many has asked me, what are the benefits to the cities / towns along the line? Not much benefits, right? Haha. Please read the next article yeah. As for now, I am excited to hear what would the CEP be telling us once they have finalised and decided about the HSR KL – SG. Oh yeah, this was what our OM said as reported by StraisTimes: “Malaysia’s Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has said the High-Speed Rail (HSR) link between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore is “postponed”, and not scrapped.” Read the full article here.  It’s very clear now. The decision is to find that best alternative to do it effectively and efficiently, not scrapping it altogether yeah. Happy believing. (Yes, that field trip with readers to enjoy a cup of coffee in SG taking the ‘HSR KL – SG’ is still on!)

written on 18 June 2018

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