Two major rail projects connecting Malaysia with its neighbour are moving closer to fruition, with Singapore's Parliament passing the Cross-Border Railways Bill on its third reading on Monday (19 March), reported Channel NewsAsia.
The proposed law aims to establish the regulatory framework over the highly-anticipated Johor Bahru-Singapore Rapid Transit System (RTS) and the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High-Speed Rail (HSR), which are expected to start operating by 2024 and 2026 respectively.
In particular, it aims to create a safe and secure cross-border railway and lays out the rules for licensing operators as well as the maintenance of the rail infrastructure.
Previously, the bill was referred to one of the Parliament's Select Committees during its second reading last November.
Second Transport Minister Ng Chee Meng revealed during the bill's third reading that the committee received five written representations. This listed important feedback and queries concerning the bill's provisions.
Among them, the committee suggested revisions to a clause permitting the "transfer or assignment of contracts with the Minister for Transport's approval" as well as another one seeking "a balance between government oversight and commercial viabilityâ€.
These clauses' original intention is to disallow the operators of the railway assets and cross-border train service from transferring or assigning their contracts to another party without the permission of the government.
"However, based on industry feedback, as well as written representations received, we noted that such clauses may deter private financiers from lending to the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High-Speed Rail Assets Company, or AssetsCo, for which the tender is ongoing. This is because the future cash flows under the AssetsCo contract cannot be used as collateral" he added.