JOHOR BAHRU: A working paper on the Rapid Transit System (RTS) project linking Johor Bahru to Woodlands, Singapore, will be presented to the Cabinet soon, said Malaysian Transport Minister Anthony Loke on Monday (Jul 30).
He said that although the government had agreed in principle to the implementation of the RTS project, detailed information about it is still needed to be brought to the Cabinet for approval.
“The government remains committed to implement the RTS project … in terms of cost, the Cabinet approval is needed,” he told reporters on Monday (Jul 30).
Loke said once the approval was received from the Cabinet, a joint venture company between Malaysia and Singapore would be set up to ensure the smooth implementation of the project.
His comments came after his Singapore counterpart Khaw Boon Wan said earlier this month that Singapore’s SMRT Corporation and Malaysia’s Prasarana Malaysia missed a deadline to set up a joint venture company to become the operator of the RTS.
READ: Deadline to form joint venture company to operate JB-Singapore Rapid Transit System Link missed: Khaw
But Loke said on Monday that the project would still be completed on schedule despite a "slight delay" due to a change of government after the 14th General Election (GE14).
“There was a delay of one, two months after GE14 but we hope it can be implemented as planned," he said, adding that Singapore had already been informed of the delay.
"We also need to remember that Malaysia is not alone in this matter, our (rail) system also needs to be integrated with Singapore’s,” said Loke.
Despite the delay, he said the federal government would not have to pay any compensation to Singapore.
“The issue does not arise because we have not signed the agreement yet, only involves an MoU (memorandum of understanding) that demonstrates our commitment, so there is no compensation,” he said.
The RTS project, signed in January this year between Singapore and the previous Malaysian administration, was mooted to ease congestion at the land checkpoints and make it more convenient for people to travel between both countries.
Once it is completed in 2024, the RTS project will link Johor’s Bukit Chagar Station in Malaysia with Singapore’s Woodlands North Station.
It is expected to carry up to 10,000 passengers per hour in each direction, which translates to an additional capacity of 60,000 users crossing the Causeway during peak hours.
READ: Johoreans welcome reduced travel time with upcoming JB-Singapore RTS Link
In the meantime, Loke said the ministry was looking at a proper mechanism to increase the Keretapi Tanah Melayu Berhad shuttle services' frequency of trips from Johor Bahru to Woodlands to meet the demand of commuters.
“At the moment, there are 31 trips and any increase will require the approval from the Singapore government,” he said.