Singapore city skyline
The proposed rail link would have connected Singapore with Kuala Lumpur. But the cost estimates seemed to have become too big a stumbling block. Image Credit: Pixabay

Singapore City: Singapore said a multi-billion-dollar high-speed rail link between the city-state and Malaysia's capital Kuala Lumpur has been terminated.

Malaysia has allowed the high-speed rail project "to be terminated, and has to compensate Singapore for costs that the city has already incurred in fulfilling its obligations," according to a statement from Singapore's transport ministry.

The announcement came just after a December 31 deadline for the second and final extension of the suspension of the project, which was first mooted a decade ago and given the green light in 2013. In June, the southeast Asian neighbors agreed to put the development, which has already incurred multiple suspensions, on hold again amid a discussion around costs.

Under 2 hours

The on-again, off-again 350-kilometer high-speed rail link would have cut travel time between the centers down to about 90 minutes versus more than four hours by car. Although flying between the two only takes about an hour, that's a lot longer once airport check-in and security is taken into account. The service was due to start in 2026.

Local media in Malaysia reported in November that Malaysia was considering ending the line in its southern city of Johor Bahru rather than in Singapore. The administration of former Malaysia Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, who resigned in February, sought to cancel the project as the country grappled with debt and liabilities amounting to more than 1 trillion ringgit ($249 billion), before settling for a deferment and a S$15 million ($11.4 million) compensation fee to Singapore.

Mahathir had at one stage estimated the project would cost around 110 billion ringgit for Malaysia.