KUALA LUMPUR, June 12 — The proposed high-speed rail (HSR) project connecting Malaysia’s capital city to Singapore in the south has not been cancelled, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad now says.
In an interview with Japanese media published in the Asian Nikkei Review last night, Dr Mahathir explained that the project was put on the backburner because of its exorbitant cost.
“We cannot say we will never have high-speed rail in Malaysia. What we can do is we can postpone the project because it is far too costly at this moment,” he was quoted saying in the question-and-answer session.
Dr Mahathir was asked if he would reconsider cancelling the HSR project if Singapore were willing to scale it down.
He said the government will rethink the project to cover longer distances, “right through the peninsula”, to make HSR travel worthwhile.
“High-speed trains are most effective where the distance is very long. But where the distance is short, it doesn’t contribute much,” he added.
Dr Mahathir is in Tokyo for the Future of Asia conference hosted by Nikkei.
It is his first official visit abroad after coming out of retirement and taking office as seventh prime minister.