SINGAPORE (Nov 30): Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong hopes to sign the bilateral agreement on the development of the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore high-speed rail (HSR) during the next leaders' retreat.

"We have made very good progress. We are almost there, and I hope that when I meet Prime Minister Najib [Najib Tun Razak] at the next retreat, we will be able to sign the agreement," Lee told Bernama on Monday.

Lee described the HSR project as "very ambitious, very complicated and a very expansive".

"We have to try our best to anticipate what the likely issues are, when we build it, when we operate it, and have a clear understanding on how we will deal with it if a situation arises.

"The first thing is to have a sound agreement between the two countries on the basis of how the project is structured, how it is going to be executed, and how it is backed by the two governments. 

"That is the first requirement, that we have a very good agreement which sets out clearly a sound basis to build and operate the system," Bernama reported him as saying.

Malaysia and Singapore have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to work towards commencing the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore HSR operations by 2026.

Both governments will take responsibility for developing, constructing and maintaining the civil infrastructure and stations located in their respective countries.

The two countries have also agreed that the HSR will have eight stations, with terminals in Bandar Malaysia (Kuala Lumpur) and Singapore, and six intermediate stations in Putrajaya, Seremban, Ayer Keroh, Muar, Batu Pahat and Iskandar Puteri.

All stations will be designed to integrate with the local public transport systems to ensure seamless connectivity.

The trains will run at a top speed of more than 300kph.

To facilitate swift and seamless travel, both governments also agreed to co-locate the Customs, Immigration and Quarantine (CIQ) facilities at three locations, namely Singapore, Iskandar Puteri and Kuala Lumpur, so that international-bound passengers will only need to undergo CIQ clearance by both Malaysia and Singapore authorities at the point of departure.

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