High Speed Rail (HSR): Challenges Ahead

by Patrick Liew on July 28, 2016

The High Speed Rail (HSR) has the potential to modernize communities, improve the economies, strengthen businesses, and bring about other benefits for both Malaysia and Singapore.

It can also improve our bilateral relationship and help us compete better in the global marketplace.

To ensure that the HSR is stable, secure and sustainable, we need to start working on identifying, preventing, responding to, and overcoming actual and possible challenges in the future.

For example, the success of the HSR does not only depend on us but also on on our counterparts across the causeway and the other parties from the private sector.

It also relies on how we continue to strengthen the symbiotic and synergistic relationships with these parties.

In addition, HSR’s success is also determined by active buy-in, support, and participation from targeted communities, companies, commuters and other key stakeholders.

We need to start educating these stakeholders on how to capitalise on values and benefits of the HSR to improve quality and standards of their achievements in the future.

The effectiveness, efficiency, productivity, safety and reliability of the HSR is a function of how the HSR is being designed, managed, maintained and improved on a long term basis.

In addition, it’s also a function of sound management of the tender process and how contracts are being awarded to appropriate vendors and contractors.

How can we ensure that the highest standards of corporate governance is being adopted at every stage of the HSR project?

As they say, the devil is in the details. How can we ensure that the necessary plans are well crafted and effectively implemented by key stakeholders in both countries?

According to research by Reason Foundation, up till May 2013, the only two HSR lines in the world that are profitable are Tokyo-Osaka in Japan and Paris-Lyon in France.

Even if part of the costs are carried by the private sector, the possibility of financial failures cannot be discounted. Such a situation can cause a cascade of negative effects on both countries, including the lives and livelihoods of many commuters and communities.

How can we develop contingency plans to respond to this and other similar challenges?

Perhaps, the authorities can expedite development of the Johor Bahru-Singapore Rapid Transit System.

This much smaller project will help both countries to improve understanding of each other’s working style, and develop stronger systems to communicate, collaborate and co-create solutions.

This project can also be used to deepen study on some of the challenges that may be faced by the HSR project and develop the necessary solutions to respond to these challenges.


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