SINGAPORE (Oct 6): The 350km high speed rail (HSR) that will link Kuala Lumpur and Singapore is expected to cost between $20 billion and $25 billion to build, estimates the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (ISEAS).

In 2006, YTL Corp had proposed that building the HSR will cost about $27 billion, says ISEAS senior fellow Francis E Hutchinson.

Speaking at the Affin Hwang Capital Conference in Kuala Lumpur on Thursday, Hutchinson adds, “And then when the government’s Pemandu (Performance Management and Delivery Unit) did their own analysis via a series of labs, it was then revised to around $5.5 billion. Now the latest I have heard is around $20 billion to $25 billion.”

Breaking down the cost, Hutchinson estimates that up to $5 billion will be allocated to laying the tracks, electrification and system integration, equivalent to about $13.6 million per kilometre, while the civil infrastructure cost will come to around $15 billion.

In addition, about $1.7 billion will be set aside for a 60 four-car train set.

The land acquisition costs must also be taken into account separately, notes Hutchinson.

With all these costs into consideration, the one-way ticket price for a 90-minute trip between KL and Singapore, is expected to cost about $60 to $65.

“The frequency of the high-speed rail service, which I understand, is about four times an hour, one being an express non-stop service, and the other three times are for shuttle servicing the in-between intermediaries stop,” says Hutchinson.

He also adds that the frequency for this train is expected to be approximately 14 times more than the express non-stop trip between Tokyo and Osaka on the Japan HSR.

Meanwhile, an online poll was conducted during the conference and showed that about 68% of participants think that the Chinese consortium will win the contract to build the HSR.

The second industry briefing was just held on Sept 26 and tenders for the project are expected to be called by end-2017.

See: MyHSR and LTA to conduct second industry briefing for KL-SG HSR

See also: Temasek portfolio companies establish partnership for joint participation in KL-Singapore High Speed Rail