Kuala Lumpur—The long-awaited details concerning the railway between Singapore and Johor Baru will be announced within the next two weeks, according to an announcement from Anthony Loke Siew Fook, the Transport Minister of Malaysia.
This means that Malaysia will be meeting the deadline, set for October 31, for giving Singapore the details of the planned Rapid Transit System (RTS).
According to Mr Loke’s counterpart in Singapore, Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan, an announcement will be made upon the completion of talks between the two countries.
Malaysia’s Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng said on Friday, October 11, that the Malaysian government intends to go through with the plan to build the Rapid Transit System (RTS) that would connect Johor Baru to Singapore as a “longer-term solution to address the congestion”.
Mr Lim said that over 300,000 Malaysians commute between Singapore and Johor every day.
An agreement between the governments of the two countries was signed in 2018 to build the 4-kilometer cross-border MRT link that would go from Woodlands (Singapore) to Bukit Chagar (Johor), which would ostensibly decrease the outflow of vehicles crossing the Causeway.
The planned RTS would reportedly be able to bring as much as 10,000 passengers per hour in either direction.
However, Malaysia has asked to be given additional time to respond to Singapore concerning building the RTS link project, which is budgeted at RM4billion (S$1.3 billion). The RTS link was scheduled to begin operations by the last quarter of 2024.
A bilateral agreement dating from January of last year mandated for a joint venture company consisting of Singapore’s SMRT and Malaysia’s Prasarana Malaysia to be formed by June 30, 2018. This joint venture company would have been appointed as the operator of the RTS Link, as per a Concession Agreement between the Malaysian government and Singapore’s Land Transport Authority (LTA) by September 30, 2018. Neither one of these deadlines were met.
On its part, Singapore’s LTA put together almost 70 employees and engineers for the project. It has also called civil tenders for constructing related infrastructure.
After last year’s General Election in Malaysia, the new administration put ongoing projects under review. Malaysia had said that the high-speed rail project between the two nations would be postponed, but that the RTS project would continue, according to Mr Loke.
This April, the two countries agreed to put the project on hold, while the Malaysian government would examine ways to lower the total cost of the project. In the meantime, Malaysia was to reimburse Singapore an abortive cost of $600,000.
According to Mr Loke, the intended fee of RM15 (S$5) for one-way fare was quite costly for Malaysians who were commuting every day. -/TISG