JOHOR BAHRU: Work will begin at the site of the Rapid Transit System (RTS) Link station in Bukit Chagar, Johor Bahru later this month, following a virtual launch on Nov 22.
The launch date coincides with the birthday of Johor Sultan Ibrahim Iskandar, according to a post on the ruler's Facebook page.
The sultan was briefed on the project by Malaysia Rapid Transit System Sdn Bhd (MRT Corp) CEO Mohd Zarif Hashim at Istana Bukit Pelangi in Johor Bahru on Monday (Nov 9).
Mr Mohd Zarif updated the sultan on the RTS project, following its inclusion in the federal 2021 budget, which was tabled recently, said the post.
“During the briefing, we touched on the project’s launch, which will be done online, as well as the final designs for the station.
"We expect to begin work on the site towards the last week of November after the official launch,” Mr Mohd Zarif was quoted as saying in the Facebook post.
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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.
It was meant to be completed in 2024, but work on the project was suspended.
The suspension was extended three times at Malaysia's request, with the last extension until Jul 31 due to Singapore's COVID-19 "circuit breaker" measures and Malaysia's movement control order.
A ceremony at the Causeway was held on Jul 30 to mark the official resumption of the project. It was witnessed by Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his counterpart Mr Muhyiddin Yassin.
Three key agreements necessary to resume the RTS Link project were successfully concluded, said a statement at that time. This includes an agreement to amend the RTS Link Bilateral Agreement between the governments of Singapore and Malaysia.
Additionally, a joint venture agreement between Singapore’s SMRT RTS Pte Ltd and Malaysia’s Prasarana RTS Operations Sdn Bhd to constitute RTS Operations Pte Ltd, as well as an agreement to appoint it as the operating company for the first 30-year concession period, were also concluded.
The Singapore-incorporated RTS Operations will design, build, and finance the RTS Link operating assets including trains, tracks and systems.
The company will also operate and maintain the rail line between Bukit Chagar in Johor Bahru and Woodlands North in Singapore.
Previously, it was announced that the construction will happen in two phases. The development and civil phase will take place from 2021 to end of 2024, while the commissioning and testing phase will take place from 2025 until the end of 2026.
Passenger service is targeted to start from end-2026.
According to the Facebook post on Monday, the sultan has consented to MRT Corp organising a competition to obtain input and ideas from the public on the design of the Bukit Chagar station’s building facade.