Singapore and Malaysia held a ceremony at the Causeway to mark the official resumption of the Johor Bahru – Singapore Rapid Transit System (RTS) Link Project on 30th July 2020.
Witnessed by the Prime Ministers of Singapore and Malaysia, Lee Hsien Loong and Tan Sri Dato’ Haji Muhyiddin bin Haji Mohd Yassin, the symbolic ceremony marked the resumption of the project with Singapore’s Minister for Transport, Ong Ye Kung and Malaysia’s Minister of Transport Datuk Seri Ir. Dr. Wee Ka Siong. The ceremony was also attended by Singapore Minister of Foreign Affairs Dr Vivian Balakrishnan and former Coordinating Minister for Infrastructure and Minister for Transport, Khaw Boon Wan, on the Singapore side; and Senior Minister and Minister of International Trade and Industry Dato’ Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali, Minister of Foreign Affairs Dato’ Seri Hishammuddin bin Tun Hussein and Menteri Besar of Johor Datuk Ir. Haji Hasni bin Mohammad, on the Malaysia side.
Officials from Singapore and Malaysia remained on their respective sides of the Causeway during the ceremony to maintain their social distancing due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Suspended on the 1st April 2019, both sides have discussed and agreed on three key changes. First, the RTS Link will be a standalone Light Rail Transit (LRT) System, instead of leveraging the Thomson-East Coast Line (TEL) Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) system and the capacity remains unchanged at up to 10,000 passengers per hour per direction. Second, the RTS Link will no longer use the existing TEL Mandai Depot and a new depot will be constructed in Wadi Hana, Johor Bahru, Malaysia. Third, each Government separately appointed an infrastructure company (InfraCo) to fund, build, own, maintain and renew the civil infrastructure and stations in its territory up to the international boundary. Malaysia has changed its InfraCo from Prasarana Malaysia Berhad to Malaysia Rapid Transit System Sdn. Bhd., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Mass Rapid Transit Corporation Sdn. Bhd. The Land Transport Authority of Singapore remains as Singapore’s InfraCo.
Arising from the suspension of the project and the above changes, the targeted passenger service commencement date will be deferred from end 2024 to end 2026.
The three key agreements necessary to resume the RTS Link Project have been successfully concluded. An agreement to amend the RTS Link Bilateral Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Singapore and the Government of Malaysia, a Joint Venture Agreement between Singapore’s SMRT RTS Pte. Ltd., and Malaysia’s Prasarana RTS Operations Sdn. Bhd. to constitute RTS Operations Pte. Ltd.; and a Concession Agreement for the Government of Malaysia and the Land Transport Authority of Singapore to appoint RTS Operations Pte. Ltd. as the OpCo for the first 30-year concession period.
The successful resumption of the RTS Link Project underscores the deep and enduring bilateral relationship between both countries, and the collective desire to strengthen partnership. The completed RTS Link will ease Causeway congestion, improve connectivity, foster people-to- people ties and generate shared economic and social benefits.