World

MTR, China Railway to bid for HSR project

BEIJING: Hong Kong's Mass Transit Railway (MTR) operator is planning to join hands with a Chinese rail giant to bid for the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High Speed Rail (HSR) project, a top official has told the South China Morning Post.

Mr Frederick Ma Si Hang told the newspaper that the company was interested in partnering with China Railway to bid for a contract to build the 350km high-speed rail link.

The Hong Kong newspaper, in an exclusive report yesterday, said the planned joint bid would be MTR's first investment under China's "Belt and Road" plan.

The Kuala Lumpur-Singapore HSR project is slated to be completed by the end of 2026 and will cut travel time between the two cities to 90 minutes.

Japan, South Korea, France and the US are among other countries keen to bid for the rail project, estimated to cost some RM60 billion (S$19.4 billion).

Mr Ma was part of a 30-strong delegation from Hong Kong led by the city's Chief Executive Leung Chun Ying at the two-day Belt and Road Forum in Beijing.

FINANCING

"We want to expand into new markets under the Belt and Road initiative," Mr Ma told the newspaper. "But we are careful in considering factors such as the financial viability of projects and risks."

The report said that Mr Ma learnt from Malaysia's Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai at the forum on Sunday that tender for the rail project was due at the end of this year.

Mr Ma said MTR and China Railway signed a memorandum of understanding for cooperation in the Belt and Road initiative last December, paving the way for future partnership in more than 60 countries along the overland and maritime trade corridors.

Mr Ma said there are many highly populated markets along the trade corridors.

He added that the risks involved in politics, financing and corruption had to be mitigated.

From Hong Kong, MTR's reach extends to Beijing, as well as to the UK, Australia and Sweden, mostly in managing rail lines. - THE STRAITS TIMES

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