KUALA LUMPUR: MRT Corp has expanded its horizons by sealing a pact with an experienced foreign partner in an ambitious venture beyond its rail expertise into a large-scale mixed property development.
In a memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed today, the local rail operator joined forces with Hong Kong’s renowned MTR Corporation to rejuvenate and transform Bukit Chagar in Johor Bahru into a southern economic hub.
The pact will see the two public transport operators work together in technical design and lifestyle integration to develop six acres of land into “liveable communities” using a “rail plus property” model.
The proposed development will offer hospitality, healthcare and wellness services, and top-class executive education, MRT Corp said.
The MoU was inked by MRT Corp’s CEO Zarif Hashim and David Tang, MTR Corporation’s property and international business director.
Both transport minister Loke Siew Fook and his counterpart Lam Sai Hung, Hong Kong’s transport and logistics secretary, were present to witness the signing here today.
Also present were the chairmen of both rail operators, MRT Corp’s Bashir Ahmad Abdul Majid and MTR Corporation’s Rex Auyeng.
Speaking at the event, Zarif said: “The Bukit Chagar regeneration will redefine urban living (and) offer convenience on a whole new level via a curated mixed development offering that integrates hardware, software and mobility”.
The development is intended to complement a planned new rapid transit system (RTS) link between Johor Bahru and Singapore – a 4km railway shuttle which will connect Bukit Chagar to Woodlands in the republic.
Zarif said the RTS link will accommodate 10,000 passengers per hour per direction, reducing cross-border travel on the Causeway from 1½ hours to a mere 15 minutes during peak periods.
The Causeway is reputed to be one of the busiest border crossings in the world with about 350,000 people travelling daily.
“The RTS Link service is expected to alleviate this congestion by at least 30% upon commencement of revenue service,” he said.
Zarif paid tribute to Loke for the significant role he played in forging the partnership.
Last month, the minister met Hong Kong chief executive John Lee in what Zarif described as “a mission to attract foreign investment (by) maximising the value capture” of MRT Corp’s RTS link project.
That meeting, he said, marked “a new chapter of bilateral relations” between Hong Kong and Malaysia.
He said that collaboration has given rise to an “exciting adventure”, adding that MRT Corp would benefit from MTR Corporation’s extensive expertise in the property development scene and its success at “integrating lifestyle with rail”.
The proposed development is also set to become a major transport hub for the southern region by connecting already existing public transport services in Johor Bahru, including KTM’s electric train service (ETS), city buses and a planned bus rail transit (BRT).