JOHOR BAHRU: Malaysia began construction for the Singapore-Johor Rapid Transit System (RTS) Link project on Sunday (November 22) with a groundbreaking ceremony at the site for Bukit Chagar station.
The event was virtually attended by Johor’s manager, Sultan Ibrahim Iskandar, Johor CrownPrince Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim, Malaysian Transport Minister Wee Ka Siong, Prime Minister Johor Hasni Mohammad and other government officials.
During the ceremony, Malaysian officials also announced that 40 per cent of the infrastructure costs paid by the Malaysian government for the project will be set aside for bumiputera contractors, including companies in Johor.
RTS Connect aims to connect Bukit Chagar in Johor Bahru with Woodlands in Singapore, serving approximately 10,000 passengers per hour each way to help ease traffic congestion on the Causeway. Passenger services are targeted initially from late 2026.
The groundbreaking event marks an important milestone for the Malaysian Rapid Transit System (MRTS), the developer and owner of civil infrastructure for the Malaysian section of the RTS Link.
Bukit Chagar station will include a four-storey building, covering the train platform and immigration, customs and quarantine (CIQ) complex, MRTS chief executive Mohd Zarif Hashim said in a speech.
The project facility will be part of a transit-oriented development with an adjoining hub and mixed property development, he added.
“The RTS Link project is a fast and efficient rail project, to facilitate more convenient travel between Singapore and Malaysia, especially for the comfort of Johor residents. It will link Bukit Chagar station, next to JB Sentral., To a station Woodlands North in Singapore 4km away, “said Mohd Zarif.
He explained that the railway would pass through JB Sentral, make a curve along Jalan Ismail Sultan before moving to Selak Tebrau and towards Woodlands North station in Singapore.
Construction and civil infrastructure are expected to take four years, and installation of the rail system will take another two years.
“This project is due to go live on December 31, 2026,” said Mr. Mohd Zarif.
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BUILDING KEPT FOR BUMIPUTERA CONTRACTORS, JOHOR COMPANIES
The total cost of the RTS project is estimated at RM10 billion (S $ 3.24 billion). The two governments have agreed to a split of 61:39, with Malaysia counterfeiting RM3.716 billion for the project.
Mr Mohd Zarif said this cost included system operations as well as the development of the ICQ complex at Bukit Chagar station, and that 40 per cent of the amount for the infrastructure was reserved for bumiputera companies.
“Forty per cent of the total infrastructure construction cost will be allocated to Bumiputera contractors, including those from Grade 1 to Grade 6 by Johor,” said Mr Mohd Zarif.
He added that Malaysian company Adil Permata had been appointed as the contractor to carry out early works, such as cleaning the site for the station and moving utilities in the area.
“The RTS Link project will expand the supply chain and develop the rail technology industry in Johor and provide jobs with the depot at Wadi Hana,” said Mr Mohd Zarif.
The depot will be located 1km away from Bukit Chagar station.
Mr Mohd Zarif added that Sultan Ibrahim had also agreed to organize a contest for members of the public to suggest possible designs for the exterior façade of the station.
Mr Mohd Zarif said the designs must “reflect a feature of the state of Johor” and have “nostalgic elements” of how the Malaysian rail chief of KTM originated in the state.
The project was supposed to be completed in 2024, but work on the project was earlier halted at the request of Malaysia.
In July, leaders from Singapore and Malaysia held a ceremony in 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 take place between 2021 and the end of 2024, while the commissioning and testing phase will take place between 2025 and the end of 2026.
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LINK TO RTS TO CUT SINGAPORE-JB TRAVEL TIME TO 5 MORE
Speaking at a post-event press conference, Mr Mohd Zarif confirmed some implementation details for the project.
He said there will always be eight sets of trains operating, with four cab sections in each train.
The train will take five minutes to travel one way between Woodlands North station and Bukit Chagar station, and the waiting time for the trains will be approximately three and a half minutes during peak time, and six minutes during non-peak times. .
Mr Mohd Zarif added that the station will operate from 6am to midnight, but said there could be flexibility on earlier starts, around 5.30am.
In terms of ticket prices, he said this has not yet been decided but assured commuters that it will be benchmarked against the costs of crossing the Causeway at this time.
“It will be competitive to encourage people to use the train facilities,” he added.