The KL-Singapore High Speed Rail: Benefits vs Costs

Many Malaysians and Singaporeans are looking forward to the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High Speed Rail (HSR), slated for a 2026 completion, which will reduce the commute between the two cities to only 90 minutes.

Of course, with such a major construction project that spans 350 kilometres, there is cause for environmental concern. The environmental impact assessment report, commissioned by the My HSR Corporation, was released last week. It noted that air, water and noise pollution, and soil erosion are just some of the short-term impact. But most alarming is the massive amount of fossil fuels that have to be burned to generate the electricity required to power the entire rail system. It is estimated that 646,000 Mwh per year will be required; to put that into perspective, the entire Malaysia consumes about 131 million Mwh per year (source). So much fossil fuel, so much carbon dioxide emissions!

That said, mitigating measures will be put into place and it is a relatively short construction period (commencing 2018 and completing in 2025). The HSR is also expected to remove a great number of vehicles from the road, and up to 55 million kilograms of carbon dioxide emissions could be eliminated this way.

Pollution aside, there is the commuter safety to consider, and the value of lives cannot be quantified. Malaysia has one of the highest road fatalities rate in the world, and by reducing the number of road users, this number will fall (fingers crossed).

Read also: Why Are Malaysian Roads So Deadly.

The HSR line will start from Kuala Lumpur, at the Bandar Malaysia Station, goes to Putrajaya, then continues on through Seremban, Malacca, Muar, Batu Pahat and Iskandar Puteri, before its final stop in Singapore. In these areas, the relocation/eviction of businesses and households will be inevitable.

In the long-term, though, the HSR will create over 100,000 jobs, and will fortify Malaysia’s plan to becoming a high-income nation.

PS: The Environmental Report will be on display at various locations until 25 January 2018, if this is your cup of “teh tarik”.

How will the HSR affect you? Let us know in the comments section.

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