Kuala Lumpur–Singapore high-speed railway

A faster alternative for the world's busiest international airline route.

Greetings from Ho Chi Minh City, where rainy season has finally begun.

This week there has been news circulating that the postponed Kuala Lumpur - Singapore high-speed rail project might be revived this month. The terms of the postponement stated that the project would be reviewed by the end of May in 2020, so there should be news about this no matter what the outcome is.

In preparation for this pending deadline, I’ve put together a factsheet of the project.

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Kuala Lumpur–Singapore high-speed rail

The Singapore-KL route is a perfect city pair for a high-speed railway, so it was disappointing when the project was cancelled/postponed in 2018. It was on the cusp of starting construction, but given how scandal-ridden the previous government turned out to be, it made sense for the new Malaysian government to stop and take stock of big projects.

There used to be a direct Singapore-KL railway service that was in operation until 2011, and I did the trip in 2009. It was good if you like train travel, but it was too slow to be a competitive alternative to flying. The current train service is even worse, with three trains involved to make the journey. Here is my trip report of the current Singapore-KL train.

The new government had also floated the idea of scrapping the high speed version and just fixing up the current line. The old line is being electrified now, but it will only be a maximum speed of 160km'/h (like the current KL-Penang train). The idea of the high speed railway is to be able to replace air travel, of which the Singapore - KL route is the busiest international route in the world.

Southeast Asia Railways News

“China Railway No. 2 Engineering Group (CREC-2) told Xinhua that it has drilled through the Friendship Tunnel from northern Laos to the border line with China on Wednesday.”

According to the state news site, the China-Laos railway is still on track to finish at the end of 2021.


“The HCM City People’s Committee has asked the owners of 151 villas built before 1975 to repair or renovate the buildings, most of which are located in districts 1 and 3.”

In a rare bit of good news for heritage in Saigon, a list of villas of colonial-era Saigon have been ordered to be repaired. Many of the old villas have been demolished or modified beyond repair. Then there are the villas that have been sawn in half, with another building built next to it. Here is a classic example.

[70 Pham Ngoc Thach, District 3, HCMC.]

I have the list of the villas, so now that I am not going to be travelling for a while I will visit them all and make a historical archive.

Other News

“Strict lockdowns, school closures and restrictions on commerce to curb the coronavirus in Southeast Asian countries brought a rare respite from transport mayhem in some of the world’s most congested cities.”

“Cities will need to address housing issues, as well as wages and social welfare measures to bring back migrant workers.”


“Dhaka Mass Transit Co has given the go-ahead for production of three more trainsets for the capital’s first metro line, although the planned delivery of the first set in June has been delayed by the coronavirus pandemic.”



“This soccer stadium for Guangzhou Evergrande is eye-catching for its scale as well as its “lotus flower” design.”


“The Indonesian Ambassador to China Djauhari Oratmangun on Tuesday said that he had previously met with the China Gezhouba Group International Engineering Co Ltd deputy president, Hu Peng, in talks of future involvements in Indonesia’s future capital city development.”


“Economic managers push to accelerate construction after Philippine economy shrinks by 0.2 percent in first quarter.”


“Construction on the project is expected to begin in October 2021 and completed in mid-2023.”

The new Ho Chi Minh City at Long Thanh is still going ahead, and this week more land was bought out to make way for the airport. With the old airport being expanded and the new airport looking more likely to start, HCMC will be well-placed for the next aviation boom in the future.

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