Malaysia proposes changes to Rail Transit System link with Singapore, Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

Malaysia proposes changes to Rail Transit System link with Singapore

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It proposes changes to scope and structure of project, Singapore welcomes decision to proceed

Malaysia has decided to proceed with the construction of a cross-border Rapid Transit System (RTS) link with Singapore after several delays, Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said yesterday. But it has proposed amending the scope and structure of the project to cut costs by 36 per cent.

Details of the proposals - including the use of a different rail system - were revealed by Malaysia just as the suspension it had requested from Singapore to review the project drew to a close.

With the proposed changes, the total cost of the 4km link is estimated to be RM3.16 billion ($1.03 billion), instead of the original RM4.93 billion, the Malaysian government said in a statement.

Malaysia plans to involve the developer/owner of the land in Bukit Chagar - where the RTS will connect to in Johor Baru - in the project, so the land cost can be waived.

The land has a market value of about RM800 million.

Malaysia is also proposing the use of a Light Rail Transit (LRT) system, instead of using Singapore's MRT system, which was the original plan.

Singapore said it welcomes Malaysia's decision to proceed with the project.

"Both sides are now discussing the changes to the project, which Malaysia is proposing in order to reduce the project cost," Singapore's Ministry of Transport (MOT) said in a statement.

"As the changes will require amendments to the RTS Link Agreement, the discussions will take some time. Both sides are working hard on this," the MOT added.

The legally binding agreement to build the RTS link - which would connect Woodlands North station on Singapore's Thomson-East Coast MRT Line to Bukit Chagar - was signed in January last year.

During a press conference held at the Bangunan Sultan Iskandar Customs, Immigration and Quarantine Complex yesterday, Dr Mahathir reiterated the need for a third bridge linking Singapore and Malaysia, adding that Singapore had refused this idea.

Dr Mahathir said the RTS will help to alleviate the congestion at the Causeway "a little bit", and pointed out what he saw as a limitation of the rail link.

"Many from Johor go to Singapore on motorcycles. Unless you can put the motorcycles on the train, these people cannot have their motorcycle in Singapore," he noted.

"(The RTS) doesn't resolve the problem of motorcyclists who go to and from Singapore everyday."

Malaysian Transport Minister Anthony Loke clarified yesterday that the RTS system would carry only passengers.

Mr Loke said it would take a "few more months" for the amended bilateral agreement to be signed, and for work to begin.

He declined to say whether the RTS could be operational by the targeted date of Dec 31, 2024 - as set out in the bilateral agreement - adding that such details would be announced when the amended deal is inked.