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Singapore and Malaysia suspend intercity rail project

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05/21/2019 | 05:34am EST

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Singapore and Malaysia have agreed to suspend the construction of a billion-dollar train project linking the wealthy city-state with its neighbour's southern state of Johor, their transport ministers said on Tuesday.

The suspension marks a delay in yet another project since a new Malaysian government came into power last year pledging to tighten finances and review major deals.

The ministers told a joint news conference in Singapore that the delay will run until September 30, with Malaysia to pay Singapore compensation for abortive costs.

"If, by 30 September 2019, Malaysia does not proceed with the RTS (Rapid Transit System) Link Project, Malaysia will also bear the agreed costs incurred by Singapore," Khaw Boon Wan and Anthony Loke said in a joint statement.

The project was estimated to cost around $1 billion.

Thousands of Malaysians travel back and forth to tiny but rich Singapore for work and school.

The transit system, due to have been completed in 2026, is designed to carry up to 10,000 passengers every hour in each direction, or more than 30 times more than the existing train service can accommodate.

"This does not mean that we are terminating the project," Loke told reporters. "We just want to re-evaluate it, so that this project can be executed more effectively."

The neighbours last year also suspended a high-speed rail project linking Singapore to the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur, which analysts estimated to cost around $17 billion.

($1=1.3756 Singapore dollars)

(Reporting by Yiming Woo and Rozanna Latiff; Writing by Fathin Ungku; Editing by Michael Perry and Clarence Fernandez)

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