Fares on JB-Singapore RTS Link 'will not be costly', says Malaysia's transport minister, as project officially resumes

(From left) Malaysia's Foreign Minister Hishammuddin Hussein, Finance and Economics Senior Minister Azmin Ali, Transport Minister Wee Ka Siong, Johor Menteri Besar Haji Hasni bin Haji Mohammad, Malaysian PM Muhyiddin Yassin, Singapore PM Lee Hsien Loong, Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung, Mr Khaw Boon Wan and Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan. ST PHOTO: GAVIN FOO

KUALA LUMPUR - Fares on the much-anticipated cross-border Johor Baru-Singapore Rapid Transit System (RTS) link will be affordable, as prices will be set with the low-income group and daily commuters in mind to make the project viable, said Malaysia's Transport Minister Wee Ka Siong on Thursday (July 30).

He added that ticket prices will be the same on both sides of the Causeway, factoring in conversion rates.

SMRT Corporation and Prasarana Malaysia, joint venture partners for the project, have already settled on the fee structure.

Speaking to reporters in Johor Baru after a ceremony at the Causeway to mark the official resumption of the project, Dr Wee said: "Whatever we decide here, say X amount in Malaysia, Singapore will charge the same in Singapore currency. It will not be costly, as we need to consider the low-income group and daily commuters to make this project viable."

The fares will be announced before operations begin, he added. The project is scheduled for completion in 2026.

"That's all we can confirm," he said.

The 4km RTS Link will connect Woodlands North MRT station on Singapore's Thomson-East Coast Line (TEL) to Bukit Chagar, a planned elevated terminal in Johor Baru.

The current KTM shuttle train service will cease operations within six months of the RTS Link becoming operational.

Both countries had acknowledged that there was a need to alleviate traffic congestion at the Causeway, which facilitates about 300,000 crossings daily.

The RTS Link will continue to feature the co-location of customs, immigration and quarantine (CIQ) facilities, so that passengers undergo CIQ clearance only once, at their point of departure.

"If you're a Singaporean commuter, you will only need to get clearance in Woodlands. For Malaysian commuters, you will be cleared at Bukit Chagar," he said.

Dr Wee added that the journey would only take five minutes each, and during peak hours, trains will be deployed at an interval of 3.6 minutes. This would allow up to 300,000 passengers to be transported per day, as the RTS Link has a capacity of 10,000 commuters.

At present, it costs S$5 for an MRT ride from Woodlands to Bukit Chagar via KTM, and RM5 for a one-way trip from Bukit Chagar to Woodlands.

The RTS Link will no longer use the existing TEL Mandai Depot and a new depot will be constructed in Wadi Hana, Johor Baru.

Dr Wee said: "This is a dedicated railway system from Bukit Chagar so for the distance of 4km, it is using the LRT system (which is different from the MRT system used by Singapore at its station). We need a maintenance depot, we need to have a place we can do servicing and maintenance, that's why we choose Malaysia.

"It will also create 1,000 jobs for the locals. The land acquisition process will continue with the help of the state government and the depot will be jointly owned by Singapore and Malaysia."

Earlier on Thursday, a ceremony was held at the Causeway to mark the official resumption of the much-delayed RTS Link project. It was suspended from April 1 last year, at Malaysia's request, to allow some time for the country to review the project.

The ceremony as Singapore's Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung and Dr Wee marked the resumption of the project was witnessed by Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his Malaysian counterpart Muhyiddin Yassin.

Singapore will be bearing 61 per cent of the RM10 billion (S$3.25 billion) project cost.

The ceremony was also attended by Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan and former coordinating minister for infrastructure and minister for transport Khaw Boon Wan, on the Singapore side; and Senior Minister and Minister of International Trade and Industry Azmin Ali, Foreign Minister Hishammuddin Hussein and Johor Menteri Besar Hasni Mohammad, on the Malaysia side.

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