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Debt-chocked Malaysia dithers on $1 billion train project with Singapore

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Malaysia and Singapore have agreed to delay by another month a decision on whether to go ahead with a billion-dollar train project connecting the city-state with Malaysia's southern state of Johor, Malaysia said on Sunday.

The countries agreed to extend the deadline to decide on the RTS Link project by a month to Oct. 31 without any additional cost, Malaysia's Ministry of Transport said in a statement.

Malaysia will have to pay Singapore abortive costs if the Rapid Transit System Link is not taken forward.

The two countries first suspended the transit system in May as Malaysia's new government - hit with 1.087 trillion ringgit ($259.7 billion) of debt and liabilities as of end-2017 - reassessed projects announced by the previous administration.

It successfully persuaded China to cut the cost of another train project by nearly a third to about $11 billion.

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

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


(Reporting by Krishna N. Das; Editing by Stephen Coates)