Monday, January 22, 2007

Are the new travel projects on the right track?

Singaporeans who prefer to travel to Kuala Lumpur by land may soon have the option of a quicker and more comfortable ride. At the moment, travellers who are avoiding the more expensive flight tickets are turning to the seven hours journey by traditional train line or a slightly faster but more taxing bus ride. But all this might change when Singapore said that it would be open to a proposal for a high-speed rail link between the city-state and the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur.

"We're open to all proposals that may benefit both countries - Singapore and Malaysia," Singapore's Transport Minister Raymond Lim said. "I look forward to receiving the proposal so that we can study it and see how best we can proceed."

The proposed $2.3 billion high-speed train line by YTL, owner of the railway from Malaysia's Kuala Lumpur International Airport to the city, will offer commuters quicker access between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. The island-state is located 300 kilometers south of the Malaysian peninsular. More than 7.1 million Singaporeans visited Malaysia in the first nine months of last year, while 443,736 Malaysians traveled to the city-state.

Although the Malaysian government have yet to fully approve the proposal by YTL, it does support it after a study showed the plan is feasible.

The two governments are also in talks to relax the restrictions on the air route between the two nations. Singapore’s willingness to discuss the issue stems from its goal to boost traffic and help preserve Changi airport's status as a regional hub.

Other than the inevitable opinions from Singapore Airlines and Malaysian Airlines who are currently dominating that flying route, there are no clear obstacles to prevent the project from taking off.

If the two plans materialize, travellers will have more options and the tourism industry in both countries may just see a significant growth from these two projects. What do you think?