Construction of JB-Singapore RTS Link on S’pore side halfway there: Minister

A view of the trestle bridge of the Johor Baru-Singapore Rapid Transit System Link project site in Johor Baru. - ST

JOHOR BARU (The Straits Times/Asia News Network): Construction of the Johor Baru-Singapore Rapid Transit System (RTS) Link has reached the halfway mark on the Singapore side, and the project is on track to start operations by end-2026.

Transport Minister S. Iswaran gave this update on Thursday (May 11) at a press conference with his Malaysian counterpart Anthony Loke after they visited a construction site in Johor Baru for one of the piers of a rail viaduct that will span the Strait of Johor.

Loke told reporters that work on Malaysia’s side is 36 per cent complete.

Iswaran said: “Based on the progress that has been achieved on both sides, we expect to be ready and on time for commencing passenger services by the end of 2026.”

Construction on the Singapore side had hit the 45 per cent mark in March, and work on the foundations for the viaduct piers is expected to be completed by the first quarter of 2024.

Thursday’s visit was part of a day-long official trip to Malaysia by Iswaran.

The minister said he had a wide-ranging discussion with Loke, and that both sides affirmed their commitment to strengthening bilateral ties.

They also discussed how to further enhance transport connectivity via sea and land initiatives, he added.

When the 4km RTS Link starts operating, passengers will be able to travel from Bukit Chagar in Johor Bahru to Woodlands North in Singapore, or in the reverse direction, in about five minutes.

The shuttle service can serve up to 10,000 passengers per hour in each direction.

It is expected to help ease congestion on the Causeway.

Before Covid-19 struck, nearly 300,000 people crossed the Causeway daily. Peak-hour traffic volumes through the Woodlands and Tuas checkpoints have since returned to pre-pandemic levels.

On the Singapore side, passengers will be able to transfer from the RTS Link to the Thomson-East Coast Line (TEL) via an underground link, without needing to exit the station.

The customs, immigration and quarantine facilities of both Singapore and Malaysia will be co-located within the same building at Woodlands North, as will be the case at Bukit Chagar station.

This means that passengers need to clear the immigration authorities only at their point of departure, instead of having to do it a second time when they arrive, as is the current practice for land border crossings.

The Wadi Hana Depot, located about 1km north of JB Sentral, will support day-to-day operations of the rail link, such as train maintenance, inspection and cleaning.

RTS Operations – a joint venture formed in 2020 between Singapore rail operator SMRT and Malaysian public transport firm Prasarana – will run the cross-border rail service.

Announced in 2010, the RTS Link project was initially targeted to be ready by 2018. A new starting date of end-2024 was later agreed on in 2017.

It was then suspended in 2019 at the request of Malaysia, which wanted to review its scope, structure and costs. The deadline to agree on new terms was extended four times.

The project officially resumed in July 2020, with several key changes made, including the use of a standalone light rail transit (LRT) system instead of the same trains and systems as the TEL.

Construction at Bukit Chagar began in November 2020, with Singapore breaking ground at the Woodlands North RTS Link station site in January 2021.

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Singapore , RTS , link , Johor Baru


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