Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Bullet Train

Malaysian tycoon Francis Yeoh (wikipedia pix) is still the midst of submitting his proposal for a bullet train service from Kuala Lumpur to Singapore.

Although details are still sketchy, earlier reports have said that the service could help cut rail travel time between the two capitals to just 90 minutes from the current 6-8 hours.

It definitely sounds like a good project to help foster closer ties between the people in the two countries, which still have deep ties despite their separation in 1965.

But can the project really take off? There are many complications:

1. Such a service will need the approval and cooperation of Singapore. It's not known if Singapore will say yes or ask for a balance of benefits.

2. The call by some Malaysian politicians to stop the train service in the southern Malaysian city of Johor Baru may render the project not viable. Why? This is because such a project will need high volume of people from Singapore, which attracted more than 8 million visitors last year. Singaporeans can also pay mah! :-)

3. Such a super fast train service from KL to Singapore will definitely call for a new link between the two countries. The old causeway, which links JB and Woodlands in Singapore, definitely has no room for a double-tracking and fast railway track. There is only a single track currently on the over-utilised causeway.

4. It's also not foreseeable for a bullet train to run along the Second Link, which connects Tuas in Singapore and Gelang Patah on the western side of Johor, as the bridge was probably not designed to carry the weight of a bullet train.

A new bridge to replace the dilapidated causeway will help solve the issue and other problems plaguing JB, as planners can leave room for a super fast train service on the side of the bridge to connect the hearts of the two countries.

Alternatively, Francis can plan for a tunnel under the Straits of Johor for the proposed train service should Singapore insist on keeping the causeway. Or maybe half a tunnel!

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