JOHOR BARU: While the 350km HSR (High Speed Railway) between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore is still under question, another 4km rail link to Singapore has been approved.
Transport Minister Anthony Loke said that the government had "agreed in principle" to the Rapid Transit System (RTS) project linking Bukit Chagar, Johor Baharu to Woodlands, Singapore.
However, Bernama reports that detailed information and a working paper about the project is still needed to be brought to the Cabinet for approval.
"The government remains committed to implement the RTS project… in terms of cost, Cabinet approval is needed," he told reporters after attending a briefing on the e-testing system, a new vehicle driving test system, at Pusat Latihan Memandu Berjaya Berhad, Taman Perling here Monday (July 30).
Loke said once the approval was received from the Cabinet, a joint venture company between Malaysia and Singapore would be set up to ensure smooth implementation of project.
The Star reported Loke as saying that the Federal Government would not have to pay any compensation to Singapore despite the delay in the RTS project implementation.
"The initial agreement that both countries signed previously is just a memorandum of understanding, so the issue of compensation does not arise," he told reporters after paying a visit to Johor Mentri Besar Datuk Osman Sapian at Kota Iskandar here on July 30.
He said Malaysian officials had already informed their Singapore counterparts about the delay of between one and two months, which was caused by the general election and the forming of the new government.
The RTS project costing RM4bil will operate from Bukit Chagar in Johor to the Woodlands North station in Singapore.
"Despite the delay, RTS Link will be completed by 2024," he said.
In January, Malaysia and Singapore signed the agreement for the new 4.2km RTS Link to transport some 10,000 passengers an hour, or 72,000 passengers a day, in four coaches travelling at 70kph.
The Star reported that the link, which includes the Customs, Immigration and Quarantine (CIQ) complex, will provide seamless connectivity between Johor Baru and Singapore.
The RTS Link will run above ground in Johor and on a 25m-high bridge track across the Straits of Johor before travelling underground to Woodlands North.
The June 30 deadline for Prasarana Malaysia Bhd and Singapore's SMRT Corporation Ltd to form a JV company to operate the RTS Link was missed, as Prasarana Malaysia suspended discussions with SMRT after the general election in May.
On the Gemas-Johor Baru electric double tracking rail project, Loke said 20 percent of the work is in progress and it was expected to be completed as scheduled on Oct 31, 2021, reports Bernama.
"Once completed the project will be able to connect the whole west coast namely from Padang Besar (in Perlis) to Johor Baru by 2022," he said.
Loke said he also took note of the Johor government's application to increase the number of Electric Train Service (ETS) stations for the double tracking rail project namely, between Kulai and Kempas.
"However, any proposal is subject to Cabinet approval as building more stations will result in an increase in the cost of the project," he added.
The RM8.9bil Gemas-Johor Baru double-tracking project spanning 192km involves the construction of 11 ETS stations including Segamat, Kluang, Labis, Bekok, Paloh, Kulai and Kempas Baru.
In the meantime, Loke said the ministry was looking at a proper mechanism to increase the frequency of trips of the Keretapi Tanah Melayu Berhad (KTMB) services from Johor Baru to Woodlands to meet the demand of commuters.
"At the moment, there are 31 trips and any increase will require the approval from the Singapore government," he added.
Besides that, he said the ministry was studying the implementation of the Vehicle Entry Permit fitted with the Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology at the Sultan Iskandar Customs, Immigration and Quarantine complex to ensure smooth traffic flow there.