MTR Corporation Cairman Frederick Ma Si-hang (center).
The chairman of Hong Kong's rail operator MTR Corporation, Frederick Ma Si-hang, said his company “was interested in partnering with China Railway” to bid for the 350-kilometer rail project linking Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. Ma made the statement while attending the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, which convened in Beijing on May 14 and 15, South China Morning Post reported.
Thepaper.cn confirmed the news, reporting that MTR insiders said the company would “provide any assistance” to the Chinese rail giant’s potential bid for the multi-billion-dollar rail line.
If the bid is successful, the project would be MTR’s first attempt to capitalize on China’s global trade and commerce strategy. It would also be MTR’s first investment under the umbrella of China’s Belt and Road Initiative.
Ma learned from Malaysian Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai that tender for the rail project was due at the end of this year, with completion expected in 2026, the newspaper reported. Once complete, the transport time between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore will be shortened to just 90 minutes. It will be the first high-speed rail project in Southeast Asia, and companies from China, Japan, South Korea and some Eastern European nations are all vying for the contract, according to media reports.
MTR Corp and China Railway Corp signed a memorandum of understanding for cooperation last December, paving the way for future partnership in more than 60 countries along the “Belt and Road” route.
MTR manager Jin Zepei told Thepaper.cn that China Railway tops the world in manufacturing and rail project management, with a colossal 2,200 kilometers of railway laid in the course of about a decade. MTR is now ready to tap into the global market via partnership with China Railway, while also providing support in business operations, contract management and international law.
In January 2017, a direct cargo train linking southeastern China’s Yiwu to London was launched. The new freight network, operated by China Railway, requires just 18 days to travel over 12,000 kilometers, running through Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus, Poland, Germany, Belgium and France before arriving in London.