Malaysia seeks another extension to finalise RTS partner

by DASHVEENJIT KAUR / graphic by TMR

THE government has requested for another six months’ extension to confirm its partner for the Johor Baru-Singapore Rapid Transit System (RTS) Link, after missing the March 31 deadline.

Transport Minister Anthony Loke said the extension until September 2019 will allow the government to figure out ways to reduce the cost of the crossborder rail project.

“We are asking for more time from Singapore for us to study other options as we are looking at the cost of the project and how we can reduce it further,” he told reporters at the Parliament lobby yesterday.

Loke added that an agreement on RTS development will be agreed during a retreat between both countries next week

The project, valued at RM4 billion, was proposed in 2018 by the former Barisan Nasional administration to connect Johor’s Bukit Chagar and Singapore’s Woodlands North, where it will join the upcoming Thomson-East Coast Line.

The RTS trains, upon operations in 2024 (estimated), will be able to carry up to 10,000 passengers per hour in each direction, translating into an additional capacity of 60,000 users crossing the Causeway during peak hours.

Both countries signed a bilateral agreement in January last year that was expected to result in the formation of a joint-venture company comprising Singapore’s SMRT Corp Ltd and Prasarana Malaysia Bhd by June 30, 2018.

In September 2018, the RTS Link Operating Co, or OpCo, was named as the developer.

Malaysia, however, has since delayed confirming its partner four times.

Prasarana is widely expected to be replaced by a private company, a move that is expected to save the government from bearing the project’s construction cost.