As reported earlier, today saw the prime ministers and transport ministers of Malaysia and Singapore meet at the Causeway for a signing ceremony that marks the official resumption of the JB-Singapore Rapid Transit System (RTS) Link project.

Prime minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and his Singapore counterpart Lee Hsien Loong met at the bridge connecting both countries as Covid-19 travel restrictions are still in place. Also present were transport ministers Datuk Seri Wee Ka Siong and Singapore’s Ong Ye Kung.

Approved and launched in 2018, the RTS Link project – 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. However, it has been suspended since April 2019 at Malaysia’s request as the then Pakatan Harapan administration wanted to review all mega projects.

The rail line will link JB to Woodlands in Singapore, and will have the capacity to ferry 10,000 passengers per hour, per direction. The capacity remains unchanged, but the RTS Link will no longer leverage the Thomson-East Coast (TEL) MRT Line in Singapore. Instead, it will be a standalone LRT system. Also, instead of the TEL’s Mandai Depot, a new depot will be built in Wadi Hana, JB.

The RTS Link will continue to feature co-location of customs, immigration and quarantine (CIQ) facilities, so that passengers undergo CIQ clearance only once, at their point of departure.

“Both ends reaffirmed their commitment to ensuring that the RTS Link stations will be well integrated with the local transport networks in each country. The fare levels will be determined closer to the date of passenger service commencement,” a joint statement by both countries said. The targeted passenger service commencement date will be deferred from end 2024 to end 2026.

Each government has separately appointed an infrastructure company to fund, build, own, maintain and renew the civil infrastructure and stations in its territory up to the international boundary. Malaysia has changed this infrastructure company from Prasarana to Malaysia Rapid Transit System Sdn Bhd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of MRT Corp. Singapore’s Land Transport Authority (LTA) will remain as the republic’s infrastructure company.

Earlier, Wee shared the timeline. “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.

“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,” he added.