Malaysia and Singapore to build South East Asia’s first high-speed rail link
Singapore and Malaysia have signed an agreement to build a high-speed rail link between the two countries, in a bid to reduce travel time at an estimated cost of $10-20 billion. Tenders for the project will be received next year, but has already generated interest among Chinese, Japanese and Korean firms.
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said: "Because this project has attracted so much international interest, it is incumbent upon us to make sure that the process will be a very fair, transparent, objective process. But we are both committed to ensuring that this will happen because the image and integrity of both countries will be at stake. So you can be rest assured that the process will be carried out in the fairest possible way."
The new rail link will decrease the travel time from Singapore to Malaysia by 90 minutes, reaching a top speed of 300km/hour and incorporate eight stops: Iskandar Puteri, Batu Pahat, Muar, Ayer Keroh, Seremban, Putrajaya and Kuala Lumpa.
The trains will be built to incorporate 10 cars, with the capacity for 100 people within a single car. The track will run for 15km in Singapore and 335km in Malaysia, with both Singaporean and Malaysian governments accepting responsibility for developing the infrastructure within the two countries.
The rail link will be finalised by 2026.
Read the July 2016 issue of Construction Global magazine
France to invest €1.8bn in Egypt’s infrastructure
France will invest a total of €1.8bn into Egypt’s infrastructure focusing specifically on upgrading the Cairo Metro, building a railway to Sudan, and developing water and energy schemes. Officials have called the investment a “major boost to bilateral cooperation”.
The Cairo Metro
Included in the financing is a concessional government loan of around €800mn to upgrade Line 1 of the Cairo Metro, introduced in the 1980s. The financing will pay for 55 trainsets for the line and is provided by the French engineering company, Alstom.
Line 6 is also due to be upgraded using further state-guaranteed loans worth up to €2bn. Bruno Le Maire said that this would be negotiated over the next six months. France and Egypt have worked in close cooperation ever since Abdel Fattah al-Sisi became president in 2014, despite differences over human rights and strong criticism of Egypt by rights activists and some foreign states.
Nine more projects over the next half a decade
A further €1bn from France’s development agency, Agence Française de Développement (AFD), aims to cover a range of other projects over the next half a decade.
These projects include a railway line between Aswan, southern Egypt, and Wadi Halfa in Sudan, as well as several projects in the renewable energy and water purification industries. Bruno Le Maire, France’s Finance Minister, said Egypt was a “strategic partner and commercial dealings with it would be developed. France will substantially increase its direct exposure to Egypt, becoming the first counter-party for government to government loans,” he said.
According to Le Maire, the AFD will also €150mn to support the construction of a universal health insurance programme. French contractors such as Vinci and Bouygues have a long history of working on the Egyptian capital’s underground system.
Talking about the relationship between France And Egypt, Le Maire concluded: “France will substantially increase its direct exposure to Egypt, becoming the first counter-party for government to government loans”.