THE government may call for an international open tender for the high-speed rail (HSR) link between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore by the end of this year.
This indicates that the 400km project is viable, said people with first-hand knowledge of the matter.
The Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) has been carrying out a feasibility study on the HSR project since early last year.
The study includes a detailed assessment on the technical and engineering aspects, cost, financial and operations, and economic benefit of the project.
Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Nancy Shukri said on Tuesday the government is finalising details of the technical engineering and feasibility study, adding that a full report is expected by the end of this month.
The project, which was agreed in principle between Malaysia and Singapore in February this year, is targeted for completion by 2020.
The rail link is expected to cost around RM40 billion. This includes RM10 billion to buy high-speed bullet trains.
According to sources, there will be mandatory requirements in the tender procurement that companies must meet before they can make a bid.
These include having a few years of expertise in running high-speed trains and operating railway lines, a source said.
"The other considerations would include transfer of technology, the type of systems used and costs. The government expects train manufacturers from Europe or China to be among the key players," the source said.
Business Times reported recently that several local and foreign firms are in talks to form consortiums.
MMC Corp Bhd may team up with Gamuda Bhd and Chinese and European system integrators.
YTL Corp Bhd, controlled by Tan Sri Francis Yeoh, may bid for the HSR project with Spanish bullet train maker Talgo or CAF.
UEM Group Bhd, meanwhile, is working with Ara Group, founded by Tan Sri Ravindran Menon, to form a consortium with European companies that may also include Talgo.
Global Rail, a railway engineering firm owned by Fan Boon Heng, is talking to Canada's Bombardier Inc and Chinese firm China Railway Group.