20 February 2013 by Luke McCormick
Officials in Singapore and Malaysia have announced plans to build a high-speed rail link between the two countries, cutting travel time between the city-state and Kuala Lumpur to 90 minutes.
Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak hailed the project scheduled for completion in 2020. The plans have fuelled hopes South-East Asia could one day benefit from an extensive high-speed network connected to China and India.
"This is a strategic development in bilateral relations that will dramatically improve the connectivity between Malaysia and Singapore," the leaders said in a joint statement issued after meeting in Singapore.
"It will facilitate seamless travel between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore, enhance business linkages and bring the peoples of Malaysia and Singapore closer together."
The existing rail link between the two cities dates back to the period of British colonial rule. The 300-km journey currently takes around six hours.
The two leaders likened the scheme to the London-Paris Eurostar connection that transformed travel and trade between those two cities.
"It's a strategic project for the two countries. It will change the way we see each other," said Lee.
Both countries are members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) that hopes to link most member states by rail and one day extend the connection to China and India.
The ASEAN plans call for a link that will run from Singapore to Kunming in south-western China, tapping into the country's massive high-speed rail network - currently the world's longest at more than 9,300 kilometres and rapidly expanding.