JOHOR (June 18): Johor businesses are still hopeful and looking forward to a Kuala Lumpur to Johor Bahru high-speed rail (HSR) link.

This is in light of a letter by MyHSR Corp chairman Tan Sri Esa Mohamed to The Star on May 19 stating that the HSR is still “very much on track”.

The Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High Speed Rail was cancelled on Jan 1 this year after both Malaysia and the republic failed to reach an agreement on changes proposed by Malaysia by the deadline of Dec 31, 2020.

“The project has long been studied and discussed for more than 10 years. We all know the returns and economic benefits are not for overnight gain,’’ Johor South SME adviser Teh Kee Sin told the daily.

Teh explained that revised HSR project excluding Singapore would “encompass almost 90% of the original 350km of tracks” involving stops in Sepang, Putrajaya, Seremban, Melaka and three stations in Johor (Muar, Batu Pahat and Iskandar Puteri).

“The project, if revised and implemented, will attract investors to Muar and Batu Pahat, hence bringing development to both towns in northern Johor.”

KGV International Property Consultants (M) Sdn Bhd director Samuel Tan, however, has a slightly different view, telling The Star that the viability of KL-JB HSR “was in doubt due to perceived lack of passenger load”.

But he also admitted that “there would be many downstream benefits from the project, with Johor standing to gain the most as it had three stations located along the track”.

“This will bring development to the Batu Pahat and Muar districts,” Tan added.

He said Singapore might link up with the domestic line to connect to the greater Trans-Asian Railway network in the future.

“Under such an arrangement, the HSR will take on a different profile. Its role as an economic multiplier cannot be underestimated,” said Tan.

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