JB-S’pore Rapid Transit System rail link still on

The RTS will connect Bukit Chagar station in Johor Baru with Woodlands North and the trip will take only five minutes. (Facebook pic)

PETALING JAYA: Malaysia will go ahead with plans to build a cross-border MRT line between Johor Baru and Singapore.

However, it wants to look at ways to lower costs, said Transport Minister Anthony Loke, according to a report in Singapore’s The Straits Times.

It will cost Malaysia RM4 billion.

The Rapid Transit System (RTS) link is a 4km line that will connect Bukit Chagar station in Johor Baru to Woodlands North.

“Of course, we will review the agreements. We want to review the terms and conditions, and the finance ministry will look into how to reduce the cost of the project,” said Loke.

“But we are committed to continue with the project.”

Since Pakatan Harapan swept into power in the May 9 polls, it has set its sights on slashing government expenditure and reducing debts.

Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad had said the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore high-speed rail project would be scrapped, subject to discussions with the Singapore government.

But the RTS project is “still on the table”.

“I was made to understand that the cost of the project is RM4 billion for the Malaysian government.

“But of course we are looking at how to reduce cost.

“We have just made the decision. We have to initiate negotiations and discussions with our counterparts in Singapore,” he was reported as saying recently.

The rail agreement was inked in January between Singapore and Malaysia under the previous Barisan Nasional government.

Rail operators SMRT and Prasarana Malaysia were expected to form a joint venture next month, with construction expected to begin next year.

The RTS is set to open by end 2024.

About 400,000 Malaysians work and live in Singapore, with most of them making the daily commute from Johor and returning in the evening.

Just last month, Singapore’s Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan, who visited the sites at the Woodlands station and Bukit Chagar station, said work on the link was on track for completion.

“When completed in 2024, it should be the preferred mode of transport for commuters crossing the Johor Strait,” he had stated on Facebook.

He said the trip between the two stations would take just five minutes and would help “significantly cut down the Causeway jams”.

Former Johor menteri besar Mohamed Khaled Nordin had said the link will also help Singapore citizens to travel more easily to Johor for shopping and recreation, boosting the economy.