Saturday, October 20, 2007

Singapore-Kunming Rail Link project making good progress

SINGAPORE : Agreements on linking up the transnational Singapore-Kunming Rail Project have been reached.

This update was given at the latest meeting in Singapore among ASEAN countries involved in the project.

Officials say the project is coming along.

In Cambodia, the missing link between the towns Sisophon and Poipet is expected to cost US$73 million and will be completed in three years.

Four rail links in Vietnam are being built or upgraded with rails replaced, and bridges and signal systems modernised.

In fact, several investors are keen to build one of them - the estimated US$250 million connection between Ho Chi Minh City and Loc Ninh in Vietnam, stretching almost 130 kilometres.

The four links in Vietnam are estimated to cost US$965 million.

Over in Thailand, one out of the three projects to build missing links is finished.

Construction has not started on the other two links; one is subject to a technical study, whereas a feasibility study has been submitted to the authorities for the other.

The Singapore-Kunming rail project is estimated to cost more than US$2 billion.

Thus, part of the trip to New York later this month for the ASEAN Finance Ministers meeting is to capture more international investor interest.

Malaysia's Transport Minister Chan Kong Choy said, "It will be presented there with the purpose also to showcase the investment opportunities in ASEAN."

So far, the Asian Development Bank, Chinese and French governments are funding part of the project.

Also raised at the meeting was the issue of the high speed rail link between Singapore and Malaysia.

An official from the Ministry of Transport said the Government's position of looking into a proposal by the Malaysian government has not changed.

The Malaysian Minister of Transport said the idea is still being discussed between the proposing corporation and departments in the Malaysian government.

Officials say the proposer of the project, Malaysia's YTL Corporation, is carrying out studies into the engineering aspects and land acquisition for the project.

The next meeting of the project's working group will be held in Malaysia next year. - CNA/ms