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Work on JB-Singapore RTS Link almost 10% completed, says Malaysia's transport minister

The Malaysian transport ministry also said that it is ready for preliminary discussions with Singapore on reviving the terminated KL-Singapore HSR project.


Work on JB-Singapore RTS Link almost 10% completed, says Malaysia's transport minister

File photo of a groundbreaking ceremony held at the construction site for Bukit Chagar station on Nov 22, 2020. (Photo: Johor Royal Press Office)

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian Minister for Transport Wee Ka Siong said that work on the Johor Bahru-Singapore Rapid Transit System (RTS) Link has reached “almost 10 per cent”. 

Dr Wee said this during a speech in parliament on Monday (Mar 14) when winding up the debate on the motion of thanks for the Royal Address by the Ministry of Transport. 

“Presently, the progress of work for the RTS project has reached almost 10 per cent, where the land acquisition process has already been completed and the infrastructure design has also been finalised,” said Dr Wee. 

“Currently ground work, movement of utilities and piling works are underway,” he added. 

The RTS Link aims to connect Bukit Chagar in Johor Bahru to Woodlands in Singapore, serving about 10,000 passengers per hour each way to help ease traffic congestion on the Causeway. 

RTS Link tunnels will be connected to a viaduct running 25m above the Straits of Johor, connecting the Woodlands North station in Singapore to the Bukit Chagar station in Johor Bahru.

The project had originally been scheduled for completion in 2024, with the Malaysia and Singapore governments signing a bilateral agreement to build the link in 2018. 

However, the project was suspended a number of times after the Pakatan Harapan government came to power in Malaysia.

The project officially resumed in July last year, with a ceremony to mark the occasion held on the Causeway. Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his then-Malaysian counterpart Muhyiddin Yassin were both in attendance. 

The project is estimated to cost RM10 billion (S$3.25 billion), with Singapore bearing 61 per cent of the cost. 

In November, Mass Rapid Transit Corp (MRT Corp), the developer and owner of the civil infrastructure for the Malaysian section of the rail project, said the project was on track to commence commercial operations in January 2027 despite facing two minor setbacks. 

MRT Corp outlined that construction of the Bukit Chagar station in Johor Bahru was “still pending” to facilitate the relocation of water pipes within the station’s vicinity to a new location. 

MRT Corp added that construction of the RTS Link Project Maintenance Depot in Wadi Hana had also been disrupted by one household that is refusing to move out of the area. 


In his speech on Monday, Dr Wee added that the Malaysian Transport Ministry is ready for preliminary discussions with Singapore on reviving the terminated KL-Singapore High Speed Rail (HSR) project in the second quarter of 2022. 

“As for the HSR Project, MOT has been given the responsibility to initiate discussions with the Government of Singapore on the new terms, and discussions are still at an early stage,” said Dr Wee.

“At this point, the ministry is prepared to hold preliminary talks with Singapore in the second quarter of this year,” he added. 

Dr Wee added that the Malaysian government was also exploring possibilities of an HSR project linking Kuala Lumpur to Thailand’s capital Bangkok. 

“In line with the (Malaysian) Prime Minister’s recent visit to Thailand on Feb 25, 2022, MOT is also exploring the possibility of launching a study to evaluate implementing the HSR from Kuala Lumpur to Bangkok,” he added. 

In December 2021, Malaysian Minister in the Prime Minister's Department (Economy) Mustapa Mohamed said that discussions between Malaysia and Singapore on the possibility of reviving the terminated Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High-Speed Rail (HSR) project are still in the early stages and the matter of reducing its costs have not been raised yet.

On Nov 29, 2021, after a meeting with his Malaysian counterpart Ismail Sabri Yaakob, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said that Malaysia has suggested reviving discussions on the terminated Kuala Lumpur-Singapore HSR project.

Mr Lee said that Singapore and Malaysia had previously reached an agreement to terminate the HSR project, and this has been amicably settled and closed.

“Nevertheless, Singapore is open to fresh proposals from Malaysia on the HSR project," said Mr Lee then.

The HSR project, which aimed to reduce travel time between Singapore and Kuala Lumpur to about 90 minutes, was discontinued after the agreement lapsed on Dec 31, 2020.

In September 2018, both sides agreed to postpone the construction of the HSR until end-May 2020, after then-prime minister Mahathir Mohamad said he had considered Malaysia's financial situation and how it would not benefit from the project.

Malaysia later requested a further seven-month extension to allow both sides to discuss and assess Malaysia’s proposed changes to the project.

But both sides could not agree on new terms, including Malaysia's request to remove an assets company that would run the railway, and the agreement lapsed.

Malaysia paid more than S$102 million in compensation to Singapore for the terminated project.

Since the termination of the agreement, Malaysia’s federal government has conducted research to study the viability of a domestic HSR project between Iskandar Puteri in Johor and Kuala Lumpur. 

Source: CNA/am(mi)


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