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‘S’pore firms could benefit if Japan wins tender for HSR project’

SINGAPORE — Should there be a Japanese winner for the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High Speed Rail (HSR) project, it could open up new opportunities for the economy here, as Singapore firms are roped in to be part of the construction process.

‘S’pore firms could benefit if Japan wins tender for HSR project’

Rail industry players viewing scale models of Japanese high-speed trains at the Third High-Speed Rail Symposium here yesterday. Japan plans to take part in the tender for the HSR project. Photo: Robin Choo

SINGAPORE — Should there be a Japanese winner for the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High Speed Rail (HSR) project, it could open up new opportunities for the economy here, as Singapore firms are roped in to be part of the construction process.

Mr Keiichi Ishii, the Japanese minister for land, infrastructure, transport and tourism, made this point on the sidelines of the Third High-Speed Rail Symposium held in Singapore Monday (Aug 28). Representatives from India and Taiwan were also at the gathering.

Japan plans to take part in the tender to appoint the assets company (AssetsCo), which would take charge of the designing, building and financing of the rail network’s rolling stock and assets, among other responsibilities.

The tender for the HSR project is expected to be called by the end of this year, and rail services are expected to start operation by 2026.

In his translated opening remarks, he said that for the Singapore-Malaysia rail system, having parts that are “made-in-Singapore” would be possible. He later told reporters: “We can suggest that (the) track can be produced locally by (a) Singapore company ... When it comes to building the actual infrastructure, I believe that joint ventures with (Singapore construction companies) are possible.”

Mr Ishii also said those in Singapore’s construction industry could benefit from the international procurement process for Japan’s well-known Shinkansen high-speed “bullet” trains.

“Now we are preparing to bid for AssetsCo and ... our energy ... is concentrated on accelerating our efforts in putting up a proposal that will include human resources development and phases of financing,” he said.

In preparing for the tender, the Japanese will be banking on the Shinkansen’s safety, reliability and total life-cycle cost — or the cost incurred over the rail system’s life span.

First launched in 1964, the Shinkansen has recorded zero fatalities and an average delay time of less than a minute each trip.

Asked about the cost of running the Shinkansen, Mr Ishii would only say that it was 14 per cent lower than the operating cost of similar train networks in China or Europe.

During the symposium, the Land Transport Authority’s deputy chief executive Chua Chong Kheng said that “the most immediate milestone” for the project would be to appoint the AssetsCo. “This is a company which (we) will jointly appoint through an open, fair and transparent tender system,” he said.

Both countries would be looking at what the bidder could offer for the rail network, including security, safety, reliability, operational flexibility and financial sustainability.

The authorities from both sides had shared information about the parameters for the tender and procurement processes of the AssetsCo during an industry briefing in Singapore last month. A second briefing will be conducted in London next month to provide interested parties with more information about the tender.

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