Singapore-KL high-speed rail may stop at Forest City in Johor Baru: Report

Channel NewsAsia 13 Oct 17;

KUALA LUMPUR: The High-Speed Rail (HSR) that is set to link Singapore and Kuala Lumpur may see an additional stop at Johor Baru's Forest City added to its line, if Chinese developer Country Garden Holdings has its way.

The developer of the mega Forest City project has made requests to Malaysian authorities and stakeholders for an HSR station to be built in the township, reported the New Straits Times on Friday (Oct 13).

An HSR station in Forest City would make the area the "new transport hub" for Johor Baru, and cater to tourists and the 700,000 residents expected to live in the residential and commercial enclave, the New Straits Time cited a source as saying.

The source added that the relevant authorities are discussing the "additional cost of adding a station in Forest City".

“The discussions will involve the Land Public Transport Commission as it will need a feasibility study. Whether it will be a revised proposal for the HSR project, will depend on the outcome of discussions,” added the source.

The HSR project is currently planned to include seven stations in Malaysia — Bandar Malaysia, Putrajaya, Seremban, Melaka, Muar, Batu Pahat and Iskandar Puteri — before reaching its last destination in Jurong East, Singapore.

In the current alignment, the train will depart Iskandar Puteri and go towards the second causeway, then cross an overhead bridge into Singapore.

The new route proposed by Country Garden will result in the HSR stopping at Forest City before it heads to the second causeway, allowing visitors and residents to have easy access to hotels, parks and attractions there.

“Country Garden expects Forest City to fuel Johor’s growth and the economy in Malaysia and Singapore. Therefore, having an HSR station there will benefit both countries,” said the source to the New Straits Times.

The HSR is expected to contribute S$6.7 billion in gross domestic product to Malaysia and Singapore, as well as create 111,000 jobs by 2060.

Despite potential changes to the HSR route, Singapore will remain unaffected by the changes.

"The distance could be longer and will cost more for Malaysia. Singapore, however, will not be affected by this move,” said the source.

The HSR, slated to be ready by 2026, is expected to shorten the travel time from Kuala Lumpur to Singapore to 90 minutes.
Source: Agencies/aa

Developers lobby for KL-Singapore high-speed rail station in Johor's Forest City
Shannon Teoh Straits Times 13 Oct 17;

KUALA LUMPUR - Developers of Forest City in Johor have lobbied the Malaysian government to place a high-speed rail (HSR) station in the mega property project just west of the Second Link crossing between Singapore and Malaysia, The Straits Times has learnt.

Sources said Country Garden – a top Chinese developer that is building Forest City in a joint venture with the state government and Sultan of Johor – is “naturally hoping the HSR will stop there” to boost the development, which has a projected value of RM450 billion (S$144 billion). The planned 350km HSR linking Kuala Lumpur and Singapore is expected to begin running by the end of 2026.

If Country Garden’s proposal is adopted, it will likely take the form of a spur line – or a short branch line – on the transit service in Malaysia, leaving the Singapore-Kuala Lumpur express route unaffected.

“If the HSR stops at Forest City, the distance will be too short to continue to Singapore,” a source told The Straits Times, explaining why a spur line is more feasible. The distance between the nearest point from Forest City to the maritime border with Singapore is just 1.1km.

Any proposal regarding the HSR must be agreed on bilaterally between Malaysia and Singapore, although the additional cost to extend a spur line to Forest City could be borne by Malaysia alone.

A spokesman for Singapore’s Ministry of Transport told The Straits Times: “We have not received a request by the Malaysian government to revise the alignment of the HSR.”

There are also plans for ferry, road and rail links from Forest City to mainland Johor and Singapore, but there has been no confirmation that the Republic has agreed to them.

The land reclamation project of Forest City – comprising four man-made islands in the Strait of Johor covering 1,386ha, nearly thrice the size of Sentosa Island – is set to be completed over 20 years and cost RM175 billion.

Singapore and Malaysia signed a bilateral agreement on Dec 13 last year to embark on the HSR project. The bullet trains – which will cut travel time between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore to 90 minutes – are expected to begin running by Dec 31, 2026.

The existing track alignment will run from Bandar Malaysia, just south of Kuala Lumpur, passing six transit stops up to Iskandar Puteri in Johor, before terminating in Jurong, Singapore.

Malaysia’s Land Public Transport Commission and Country Garden Pacificview – the joint-venture company developing Forest City – did not respond to requests for comment.

Country Garden owns 60 per cent of Forest City. Its Johor partner is Esplanade Danga 88, which has Johor Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar as its largest shareholder.