"We looked at the original timeline of 2020, and think it is not really realistic," Singapore's prime minister Mr Lee Hsien Loong told journalists during a press conference at a two-day leader's retreat. "We have to take a bit more time to do it well, but to do it without delay."

Malaysian prime minister Mr Datuk Seri Najib Razak said design would take a year to complete, with another year for tendering and five years for construction and commissioning. "We both decided that bilateral issues pertaining to the high-speed rail project will be settled by the end of the year," Najib says, adding that discussions are continuing around the proposed business model and level of government participation in the project.

Lee also confirmed that the Singaporean terminus will be situated in Jurong East in the western part of the island, where the North – South and East – West metro lines converge.

Last month the Malaysian government approved the creation of MyHSR Corporation, a state-owned company which will be responsible for overseeing implementation of the project. The Malaysian Ministry of Finance will be issued with 10 million shares in the company, each worth Ringgit 1 ($US 0.28).