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Bring back the HSR to boost property sales and the economy

Published: Monday, 18 October 2021

Major property developers are hoping for good news in Budget 2022 regarding developing the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High-Speed Rail (HSR) and other railway infrastructure projects.

They're counting on the HSR project's progress to boost residential and commercial property sales in some of the primary catchment areas, as well as the country's economy.

"Many developers bought sizeable land and property in advance of the HSR's construction. However, they lost a lot of money in terms of holding costs and human resources when the project was shelved. Some attempted to sell the land but were unable to do so due to the pandemic. The land price fell slightly after the HSR project was cancelled.

"We are hoping for good news on new railway developments in Budget 2022. It will drive real estate developments in the country and attract foreign investors," one of the country's major developers told NST Property.

Mega developments like the Tun Razak Exchange and Bandar Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur will benefit from the HSR, including projects in Melaka and Iskandar Puteri, Johor.

The government is looking at alternatives and plans for the HSR, according to Economic Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed.

The aim is to make a final stop in Iskandar Puteri rather than continuing from Kuala Lumpur to Singapore.

The government is also considering constructing a high-speed rail line from Kuala Lumpur to the country's northern regions, including a stop in Bangkok, Thailand.

Mustapa stated that research on the proposed high-speed rail link between Kuala Lumpur and Iskandar Puteri has been completed and presented to the Cabinet.

In a question-and-answer session chaired by Bursa Malaysia Bhd chairman Wahid Omar at Invest Malaysia 2021 yesterday, he reportedly said the idea to link the HSR to Bangkok was at a "very early" stage.

Putrajaya had also received proposals and presentations on the MRT3 project, according to Mustapa.

He said that the MRT3 was needed but that the model would have to be examined.

"What's important is the amount of money the government has got to put in to make the project successful. In terms of help from the government, under the present circumstances, we'll have to look at the financial implications. But when the economic situation improves and government coffers have been boosted, then we can revisit some of these projects," he said.

Malaysia intends to have a public transportation usage rate of 40 per cent or 50 per cent. It was at a low of 20 per cent currently.

Former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak first announced the HSR in September 2010, with the infrastructure project set to be completed in 2026.

The project's expected construction cost was last estimated to be around RM60 billion, down from RM110 billion when it was first announced.

The HSR project was terminated after Malaysia and Singapore failed to agree on revisions requested by Malaysia before the project agreement expired on December 31, 2020.

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