Talks between Malaysian prime minister, Mr Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, and his Singaporean counterpart, Mr Lee Hsien Loong, held in December ultimately failed to prevent the lapse of the agreement. 

In a joint statement published on January 1, both governments said they would abide by their obligations and will now proceed with necessary actions resulting from the termination of the high-speed rail agreement. 

In a separate statement, Singapore's Ministry of Transport said it expects the Malaysian government to compensate Singapore for costs already incurred. However, the exact amount of compensation which Malaysia must pay has not yet been specified. 

The termination follows the suspension of the project in September 2018 to allow time for a review of costs, at the request of the incoming Malaysian government following a general election in May of that year. 

The governments subsequently agreed to extend the project’s suspension in June 2020 until the end of last year, following proposals by the Malaysian government to alter the project in consideration of the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the country.  

The 350km line, which was planned to run from Banadar, Kuala Lumpur, to Jurong East, Singapore, serving seven stations, was announced in 2013, with both countries signing a bilateral agreement to support the project in 2016. The line was expected to have an end-to-end journey time of 90 minutes, cutting journeys from current times of four hours by car and about an hour by air, on what is one of the world’s busiest air corridors. 

Work on a separate cross-border line between Malaysia and Singapore, the 1.3km Johor Bahru - Singapore light metro system, began in November 2020, and is scheduled to be completed in 2026. 

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