ExclusiveHong Kong’s MTR Corp plans joint bid with mainland rail giant to build Kuala Lumpur-Singapore link
Project would be corporation’s first attempt to capitalise on mainland government’s ‘Belt and Road’ trade strategy
Hong Kong’s rail operator plans to join forces with a state-owned mainland Chinese rail giant to bid to build a multibillion-dollar rail line between Malaysia and Singapore, in its first attempt to capitalise on China’s global trade and commerce strategy, a top official said.
“We want to expand into new markets under the ‘Belt and Road’ initiative,” Ma said. “But we are careful in considering factors such as financial viability of projects and risks.”
Ma learned from Malaysia’s transport minister Liow Tiong Lai at the forum on Sunday that tender for the rail project was due at the end of this year, with completion expected in 2026.
Ma said MTR Corp and China Railway Corp signed a memorandum of understanding for cooperation in the initiative last December, paving the way for future partnership in more than 60 countries along the plan’s two trade corridors: the old Silk Road land route to the north, and the maritime Silk Road to the south.
Ma said the rail company was inclined to take a managerial role in any future projects, which are mostly capital intensive.
“We have gone global earlier than other companies and gained some overseas experience, largely in developed countries,” he said. “When talking about investments, we have a stringent set of internal requirements on risks and returns, which are not easily met.”
Ma said there were many highly populated markets along the corridors, which promised sufficient demand for mass transit.
But risks relating to politics, financing and corruption had to be mitigated, he said.
As well as Hong Kong, MTR Corp’s reach includes Beijing, London, Australia and Sweden, mostly in managing rail lines.
Denise Tsang is reporting from Beijing.