MERSING: The Sultan of Johor has expressed reservations on the proposed design of the Rapid Transit System (RTS) rail track connecting Singapore and Johor Baru in Malaysia.
In the exclusive interview with the New Straits Times (NST) published Tuesday (Aug 8), Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar said that while he welcomed the project he disagreed with the overall curve-shaped design of the track as well the plan to build an elevated bridge as high as 30m above water in the middle section.
The bridge, linking Woodlands in Singapore and Bukit Chagar in Johor Baru, would disrupt the city skyline along the Johor Straits, he told the Times.
"We are talking about a permanent fixture here. Go back to the drawing board and review the overall plan," the Sultan was quoted as saying.
According to the newspaper, he also said that the parties involved would have to consult him: "Whatever (new plan) is presented to me, it will have to be logical, economical and sustainable for the benefit of not only Johoreans but all Malaysians and Singaporeans."
Sultan Ibrahim criticised both the proposed curved design of the rail link and the elevated bridge as impractical, unsustainable and potentially costly, according to the NST.
"Why do we have to have a curved design when we can have a more practical design that is straighter and closer to the Causeway? Why do they need an elevated bridge with up to 30m air draft (clearance height from water to a vessel's height) unless there are plans to remove the Causeway?"
The new design, he suggested, could be the same height as the Causeway or be slightly elevated.
NST also reported that Sultan Ibrahim questioned the need for both countries to have separate contractors to build portions of the link in their respective countries. Instead, he suggested that the project be undertaken by a single contractor through a joint venture between the two countries.
He was quoted as saying he would bring up his concerns over the design in a meeting with Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong next month, before bringing up points from the meeting with the Malaysian government and the media.
The RTS Link was first announced in 2010, and is expected to begin passenger service by the end of December 2024. Singapore has confirmed that its RTS terminus will be located at Woodlands North station, along the Thomson-East Coast MRT line, while Malaysia has chosen Bukit Chagar as its main terminal for the RTS.
The RTS Link will be able to carry up to 10,000 passengers in each direction every hour. Once it begins passenger service, the existing KTMB Tebrau shuttle will cease operations.