Malaysia begins construction of RTS Singapore-Johor link with groundbreaking ceremony at Bukit Chagar station

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JOHOR BAHRU: Malaysia began construction of the Singapore-Johor Rapid Transit System (RTS) Link Project on Sunday, November 22 with a groundbreaking ceremony at the Bukit Chagar station site.

The event was virtually attended by the ruler of Johor, Sultan Ibrahim Iskandar, Johor CrownPrince Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim, Malaysian Transport Minister Wee Ka Siong, Chief Minister Johor Hasni Mohammad and other government officials.

During the ceremony, Malaysian officials also announced that 40% of the infrastructure costs borne by the Malaysian government for the project will be reserved for bumiputera contractors, including companies in Johor.

The RTS Link aims to connect Bukit Chagar to Johor Bahru to Woodlands in Singapore, serving around 10,000 passengers per hour each way to help reduce traffic congestion on the roadway. Passenger services are expected to start from the end of 2026.

Artist’s impression of the train platform at Bukit Chagar station. (Photo: MRTS)

This groundbreaking event marks a milestone for Malaysia Rapid Transit System (MRTS), the developer and owner of civilian infrastructure for the Malaysian section of the RTS Link.

Bukit Chagar Station will consist of a four-story building, encompassing the train platform and an Immigration, Customs and Quarantine (CIQ) complex, MRTS director general Mohd Zarif Hashim said in a speech.

The project installation will be part of a transit-focused development with an adjacent transportation hub and mixed real estate development, he added.

“The RTS Link project is a fast and efficient rail project intended to facilitate travel between Singapore and Malaysia, especially for the convenience of the people of Johor. It will link Bukit Chagar station, located next to JB Sentral station, to Woodlands North station in Singapore 4 km away, ”said Mohd Zarif.

The layout of the RTS Link project. (Photo: MRTS)

He explained that the railway line would pass through JB Sentral, curve along Jalan Ismail Sultan before heading to Selak Tebrau and Woodlands North Station in Singapore.

Construction and civilian infrastructure are expected to take four years, and installation of the rail system will take another two years.

“This project is supposed to start on December 31, 2026,” said Mohd Zarif.

READ: Implementing cross-border travel programs between Singapore and Malaysia was ‘right move’: Johor Chief Minister

CONSTRUCTION RESERVED FOR ENTREPRENEURS FROM BUMIPUTERA, JOHOR ENTERPRISES

The total cost of the RTS project is estimated at RM 10 billion ($ 3.24 billion). The two governments agreed to a 61/39 split, with Malaysia disbursing RM3.716 billion for the project.

Mr. Mohd Zarif said that this cost includes the operation of the system as well as the development of the ICQ complex at the Bukit Chagar station, and that 40% of the infrastructure amount has been reserved for bumiputera companies.

“Forty percent of the total cost of building the infrastructure will be allocated to contractors in Bumiputera, including those in grade 1 to grade 6 in Johor,” said Mohd Zarif.

He added that the Malaysian company Adil Permata has been appointed as the contractor to carry out the first works, such as the clean-up of the station site and the transfer of utilities to the area.

“The RTS Link project will expand the supply chain and develop the rail technology industry in Johor and create jobs with the Wadi Hana depot,” said Mr. Mohd Zarif.

The depot will be located 1 km from Bukit Chagar station.

Johor Sultan RTS Link Project

Sultan Ibrahim Iskandar launching the inauguration of the construction of the Bukit Chagar station. He is accompanied by Crown Prince Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim and Chief Minister of Johor Hasni Mohammad. (Photo: Johor Royal Press Office)

Mr. Mohd Zarif added that Sultan Ibrahim also agreed to hold a competition for members of the public to suggest possible designs for the exterior facade of the station.

Mr Mohd Zarif said the designs should “reflect the characteristics of the state of Johor” and have “nostalgic elements” for the origin of the main Malaysian rail operator KTM.

The project was due to be completed in 2024, but work on the project has been suspended at the request of Malaysia.

In July, the leaders of Singapore and Malaysia held a ceremony at the causeway to mark the official resumption of the project.

Previously, it was announced that construction would take place in two phases. The development and civil phase will run from 2021 to the end of 2024, while the commissioning and test phase will run from 2025 to the end of 2026.

READ: Johor to expand agriculture, export more food to Singapore, says chief minister on COVID-19 economic backbone

RTS LINK TO REDUCE SINGAPORE-JB TRAVEL TIME TO 5 MINS

Speaking at a press conference after the event, Mr. Mohd Zarif confirmed some details of how the project works.

He said there will be eight trains in service each time, with each train having four cabin compartments.

The train will take five minutes to go one way between Woodlands North Station and Bukit Chagar Station, and the wait time for trains will be approximately three and a half minutes during the rush hour, and six minutes during the off-peak period.

Mr. Mohd Zarif added that the station will operate between 6 a.m. and midnight, but argued that there could be flexibility to start earlier, around 5:30 a.m.

Regarding ticket prices, he said it had not yet been decided, but assured commuters that this would be compared to the costs of crossing the causeway currently.

“It will be competitive to encourage people to use the railway facilities,” he added.

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