Decision on RTS to be announced by end-October, says Loke

by SHAHEERA AZNAM SHAH/ pic by BLOOMBERG

MALAYSIA is expected to formally announce the resumption of work on the Johor Baru (JB)-Singapore Rapid Transit System (RTS) by end-October, following Cabinet talks.

Transport Minister Anthony Loke said more details on the financial implications of the project will be disclosed in due course. The project will meet the extended deadline agreed upon by Malaysia and Singapore.

“In the tabling of Budget 2020, Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng expressed the federal government’s intention to resume the RTS. It is an indication of the government’s support for the project, but I cannot give details now.

“The decision will be discussed and decided by the Cabinet soon. Once finalised, I will be extending the decision to my counterpart in Singapore,” he said at the Johor Port Week and Port Conference 2019 in JB yesterday.

In May, Malaysia and Singapore agreed to suspend work on the railway for six months until Sept 30, while the former would reimburse Singapore for the abortive costs incurred of around S$600,000 (RM1.83 million).

After deliberate considerations with its Singaporean counterpart, Malaysia had extended the timeline for another month to Oct 31, 2019 at no extra cost.

The RM4 billion project, which spans 4km and connects Bukit Chagar in JB to Woodlands in Singapore, is expected to serve 10,000 passengers per hour.

It is anticipated to replace the railway track and shuttle train services between JB Sentral and Woodlands Train Checkpoint.

Construction on the project was scheduled to begin this year and was expected to be completed by December 2024.

When tabling the budget last Friday, Lim had said the government “intends to proceed with the RTS” as part of a longer term solution to ease congestion at the Johor-Singapore Causeway.

Over 300,000 Malaysians commute daily to Singapore via the Causeway, he said. The government is also investing RM85 million beginning next year to improve traffic congestion at the Causeway and the Tuas Second Link (Malaysia-Singapore Second Link).

This includes enhancing vehicle and traffic flow through the Customs, Immigration and Quarantine Complex, the opening of an additional 50 counters for motorcyclists, and streamlining immigration and PLUS counters.