Skip to main content

Advertisement

Advertisement

Johor-S’pore rail link will not run by end 2024 due to delays in Malaysia

SINGAPORE — The Johor Baru-Singapore Rapid Transit System (RTS) link project will likely face further hold-ups as Malaysia has “repeatedly delayed” confirming its joint-venture partner for the firm that will operate the rail link, Acting Minister for Transport Vivian Balakrishnan said on Thursday (March 7).

The 4km Rapid Transit System link service between Bukit Chagar in Johor Baru, Malaysia, and Woodlands North in Singapore, is “no longer on track” to start operations by the original target of Dec 31, 2024.

The 4km Rapid Transit System link service between Bukit Chagar in Johor Baru, Malaysia, and Woodlands North in Singapore, is “no longer on track” to start operations by the original target of Dec 31, 2024.

Follow us on Instagram and Tiktok, and join our Telegram channel for the latest updates.

SINGAPORE — The Johor Baru-Singapore Rapid Transit System (RTS) link project will likely face further hold-ups as Malaysia has “repeatedly delayed” confirming its joint-venture partner for the firm that will operate the rail link, Acting Minister for Transport Vivian Balakrishnan said on Thursday (March 7).

As such, the 4km RTS link service between Bukit Chagar in Johor Baru and Woodlands North in Singapore is “no longer on track” to start operations by the original target of Dec 31, 2024, he added.

Mr Balakrishnan, who is also Foreign Affairs Minister, provided the update during the parliamentary debate on the budget of the Ministry of Transport (MOT). He was responding to a question from Mr Ang Wei Neng, Member of Parliament (MP) for Jurong Group Representation Constituency (GRC), on the status of the RTS project.

Mr Ang also asked how the ministry intended to “better engage” Malaysia to place their priorities on RTS over the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High Speed Rail (HSR) project, which has been suspended for two years up to May 31, 2020, while both sides work out ways to reduce construction costs.

He argued that the RTS, which can carry 10,000 passengers every hour, “will be more important” than the HSR as it will bring “immediate relief” to the 300,000 people who cross the border daily, by boosting the peak-hour capacity of the Causeway by 60,000 commuters.

Read also

In his reply, Mr Balakrishnan said that Malaysia had asked last Thursday for yet another deadline extension to March 31, 2019, because it needed more time to confirm its joint-venture partner for the RTS Link Operating Company (OpCo).

The deadline was already shifted four times — from last June to September, then to two dates in December before settling on Feb 28. In June, a joint venture company comprising Singapore’s SMRT and Malaysia’s public transportation company, Prasarana Malaysia Berhad, was supposed to be constituted, but Malaysia had sought to replace Prasarana.

Without confirming a partner, the OpCo cannot be incorporated and the concession agreement between Singapore’s Land Transport Authority and its Malaysian counterpart, which was meant to be inked by Sept 30 last year, cannot be signed.

“We hope that they will reach a decision soon,” said Mr Balakrishnan. He is standing in for Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan, who is on medical leave after he fell and broke his arm about two weeks ago.

JOINT ANNOUNCEMENT ON MARITIME DISPUTE SOON

During the parliamentary debate, a number of MPs raised questions on Singapore’s bilateral relations with Malaysia, which have come under the spotlight due to the disputes over maritime and airspace issues.

Another hot topic was the issue of last-mile transport options — which includes personal mobility devices such as e-scooters — and what MOT is doing to ensure that last-mile connectivity is not compromised while it aims to keep pavements safe for people.

Read also

Mr Balakrishnan said: “Our approach to engaging Malaysia remains unchanged. We have upheld international law and respected the sanctity of international agreements. At the same time, we have been reasonable (and) constructive in trying to resolve issues in a win-win manner.” 

He added that “reasonable progress” has been made with regard to Singapore’s maritime dispute with Malaysia, which has been ongoing for almost five months after the latter unilaterally expanded the Johor Baru port limits into Singapore’s territorial waters.

“I hope to make some joint announcements within the next two weeks,” he said.

When asked by Mr Ang if the prolonged dispute would affect the viability of Singapore’s future Tuas megaport — which will be fully developed by the 2040s — Mr Balakrishnan said that it would not.

“Development works are proceeding as planned, and there will be no impact to access for ships calling at the terminal in the future. I can assure Mr Ang that our security agencies will continue to be vigilant and safeguard the sovereignty and security of our territorial waters.” 

Mr Balakrishnan also touched on Singapore’s stand when it came to airspace claims from Malaysia and Indonesia.

Read also

In recent years, Indonesia had indicated that it wanted to take back control of the Flight Information Region over Riau Islands, saying that it was an issue of sovereignty. As for Malaysia. it had protested Singapore’s plan to use the southern Johor Baru airspace for flight operations at Seletar Airport.

Mr Balakrishnan stressed that that these are “not boundary disputes”.

“We are certainly willing to address their concerns. Singapore fully respects Malaysia’s and Indonesia’s sovereignty over their airspace,” he said.

“At the same time, discussions on air navigation arrangements must fundamentally be based on technical and operational considerations for the purpose of ensuring the safety and efficiency of civil aviation. Any changes to these arrangements, if warranted, must be done properly in accordance with the rules, requirements and decisions set out by ICAO (the International Civil Aviation Organisation).”

Presently, Singapore and Malaysia have an agreement to extend the mutual suspension of the Instrument Landing System procedures for Seletar Airport and the restricted area over Pasir Gudang until March 31, he noted.

“We have explained to Malaysia that Seletar Airport has been serving charter, medevac and MRO (maintenance, repair and overhaul) flights without issues for decades and should continue to operate normally,” said Mr Balakrishnan, who said that he had personally engaged Malaysian Transport Minister Anthony Loke on Feb 27 on the matter.

“We are closely monitoring the progress of these sensitive discussions between our officials.”

Read more of the latest in

Advertisement

Popular

Advertisement

Stay in the know. Anytime. Anywhere.

Subscribe to get daily news updates, insights and must reads delivered straight to your inbox.

By clicking subscribe, I agree for my personal data to be used to send me TODAY newsletters, promotional offers and for research and analysis.