Construction of the Johor Bahru-Singapore Rapid Transit System (RTS) is expected to start in January 2021, and the target is for operations to start by the end of 2026. The timeline was revealed by transport minister Datuk Seri Wee Ka Siong in parliament today, reported by the Malay Mail.

Wee told the Dewan Rakyat that the signing ceremony of the three related agreements between Malaysia and Singapore will happen on July 30 at the Causeway, witnessed by the prime ministers of both countries.

“The construction of the RTS Link is expected to begin soon after the appropriate approvals are obtained in January 2021, and it’s expected to start operating at the end of 2026. The construction will continue in two phases, namely from the beginning of 2021 to the end of 2024 – the phase of development and construction of civil structures,” Wee said.

“While from the beginning of 2025 to the end of 2026 is the phase of system construction such as signalling, rolling stock, telecommunications, commissioning and also system testing,” the Ayer Hitam MP added.

The RTS Link – aimed at addressing congestion in the daily commute between the Johor and Singapore – was initially scheduled to begin construction in 2019 and slated for completion by December 2024. The proposed 4km rail line will link Bukit Chagar in JB to Woodlands in Singapore, and will have the capacity to ferry 10,000 passengers per hour, one way. Under the original agreement, the one-way fare was set at RM15.

Approved and launched in 2018, the project was reviewed by the previous Pakatan Harapan administration after it came to power later in the same year. It is reported that the revised project cost is now RM3.2 billion, down from the original RM4.9 billion.

Meanwhile, analysts are saying that the conclusion of the RTS bilateral agreement will lead to a likely favourable outcome for the KL-Singapore High Speed Rail (HSR) project, which was similarly shelved by the PH government. The mega rail project has been deferred to end-2020, and international trade and industry minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali is currently leading the negotiations for Malaysia.