PETALING JAYA: The RM3.7 billion Rapid Transit System (RTS) Link project was officially launched today.
It will reduce time between Johor Bahru and Singapore to just five minutes once it is operational by the end of 2026.
RTS will link Bukit Chagar in Johor Bahru with Woodlands in Singapore.
Developed by Malaysia Rapid Transit System Sdn Bhd, a subsidiary of MRT Corp, the 4km light rail link will be able to serve up to 10,000 commuters per hour during peak periods.
Its 150,000 daily passengers will make up almost half the total number of daily commuters between the two countries.
The project was launched today by Sultan of Johor Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar to coincide with his birthday.
The actual ground-breaking ceremony, held at the project site for the future Immigration, Customs, and Quarantine (ICQ) building, was officiated by the Sultan virtually from Istana Bukit Serene.
According to a statement published on the ruler’s Facebook page, the RTS Link is expected to change the public transport landscape of Johor and bring enormous socio-economic benefits to Johor and the rest of the country.
“The project will further strengthen economic, political and social bonds between Malaysia and Singapore,” added the ruler.
Construction work, costing RM2 million, on the project is set to start at the end of this month.
Speaking at a press conference after the project’s launch, MRT Corp CEO Mohd Zarif Mohd Hashim said the project’s civil structures will take four years to construct.
Another two years will be spent on installing the systems and testing the operations.
Zarif said the project will create 1,500 jobs and support another 15,000 jobs, with 40% of the total infrastructure construction cost (RM800 million) to be allocated to Bumiputera contractors, including those from Grade 1 to Grade 6 from Johor.
Zarif explained that Malaysia’s portion of the cost of developing the RTS Link Project was RM3.7 billion, which included cost of the land, the construction of a station at Bukit Chagar, a depot at Wadi Hana, and viaducts through the city centre of Johor Bahru and over the Straits of Johor to the Malaysia-Singapore boundary.
The cost also included the construction of a four-storey Immigration, Customs and Quarantine Complex at Bukit Chagar.
This facility will be part of a transit-oriented development where there will also be a multimodal transport hub and mixed property development.
Zarif also said he didn’t expect the project’s progress to be hindered by the Covid-19 pandemic as MRT Corp had similar experience handling the ongoing construction of the MRT Putrajaya Line (previously known as the MRT Sungai Buloh-Serdang-Putrajaya Line).
“We already have SOPs established. We will make sure that construction and economic activities will not stop during the pandemic,” he said.
Speaking at the event’s launch, Transport Minister Wee Ka Siong said his ministry was committed to ensuring the project was completed on time by 2026.
The Ayer Hitam MP was also confident the RTS would boost economic growth of Johor, besides strengthening its tourism and real estate sectors.