PUTRAJAYA, Malaysia: The Rapid Transit System (RTS) link connecting Singapore and Johor Baru will be connected via a high bridge, the prime ministers of Singapore and Malaysia announced on Tuesday (Dec 13).
"We've settled on a high-bridge crossing. This was a major point - how are we going to cross the Straits of Johor - high bridge, low bridge (or) tunnel," said Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. "That clears the way for us to work towards a bilateral agreement which I hope we can sign by the end of next year.
Mr Lee was speaking at a joint news conference with Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak after the signing of a bilateral agreement on the high-speed rail (HSR) project.
The RTS link will adopt Singapore's Thomson-East Coast line system, including its signaling system, rolling stock, communication system and integrated supervisory control system. Explaining the rationale for this, Mr Lee said it would reap economies of scale.
The train system was first announced in 2010. Subsequently, Singapore confirmed that its RTS terminus will be sited at Woodlands North Station, along the Thomson-East Coast MRT line. Malaysia has also chosen Bukit Chagar as the main terminal for the RTS.
"Visitors can clear immigration in Johor Baru, get on the RTS, come to Singapore and transfer to the MRT seamlessly and vice versa," said Mr Lee.
“This will further enhance our connectivity and benefit thousands who commute regularly between Singapore and JB,” Mr Lee added.
A tender was called in 2011 to conduct an engineering study on the RTS link, which aimed to develop possible alignments and proposals for the system.
"When they come to fruition, there will be more exchanges between our people and our ties will grow closer," said the Prime Minister.
In a joint statement released later on Tuesday, the two leaders stated that the RTS link will be operated by a corporate entity.
The statement added that fares for the RTS link will be market-based and set by the operator, and will not be regulated by either government.
TRIENNAL CULTURAL SHOWCASE
To enhance bilateral ties between the two countries, Mr Lee announced that there will be a cultural showcase every three years. Artists from both sides of the causeway will come together to showcase their works.
Mr Lee said the triennial showcase is timely as both countries build on the success of Titian Budaya held in Kuala Lumpur last year. Titian Budaya, which means "cultural bridge" in Malay, was a three-month cultural showcase which saw participants from various art forms such as music, theatre, dance and film performing together.
The triennial cultural showcase will further cultural cooperation between both countries, said Mr Lee, adding that the relations between Singapore and Malaysia must be more than just economic and transactional.
“Ultimately it is about the friendship between our leaders and our peoples. Art and culture play an important role here.”
The showcase will be held in conjunction with future leaders’ retreats,starting from 2018.