SINGAPORE - On Jan 16, during the eighth Singapore-Malaysia leaders’ retreat, Singapore and Malaysia signed a legally binding bilateral agreement to build a cross-border 4km Rapid Transit System (RTS) Link that will let commuters travel seamlessly between Woodlands North and Johor Baru.
This came just over a year after the same leaders signed an agreement, at their previous retreat in Putrajaya in December 2016, to build the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High-Speed Rail (HSR) Link.
“The RTS Link will help to boost connectivity, strengthen our economic and business links, and enhance people-to-people relations,” said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Singapore on Jan 14.
When fully operational, the RTS Link will be able to carry as many as 10,000 people every hour in each direction. This means an additional capacity of 60,000 passengers crossing the Causeway during peak hours, easing the perennial congestion at the Causeway.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said the enhanced connectivity would also boost economic cooperation in Iskandar Malaysia (IM) in Johor. Singapore is currently the second-largest foreign investor in IM and Johor.
Indeed, massive infrastructure projects such as the RTS and the HSR would turn Johor into Malaysia’s new economic powerhouse, Johor Menteri Besar Mohamed Khaled Nordin said earlier this month.
“These mega projects - together with other developments taking place here - will generate 250,000 employment opportunities in the state,” The Star reported him as saying, naming as well the Gemas-Johor Baru double-tracking rail system and the Refinery and Petrochemical Integrated Development project in Pengerang.
Construction of the RTS is expected to begin in 2019 and the link is set to open by Dec 31, 2024. By 2025, one could hop on a train from Singapore to Johor Baru every eight minutes, or every four minutes during peak hours.
The link will be run by a joint venture between rail operators SMRT and Prasarana Malaysia.