JOHOR BARU (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Johor can expect a further boost to its economy by the next five years with the completion of the Johor Baru-Singapore Rapid Transit System (RTS) Link which will take commuters only five minutes to reach the island Republic, said Johor's ruler Sultan Ibrahim Iskandar.
Sultan Ibrahim said he had been informed that the RTS Link was expected to carry up to 300,000 passengers a day.
"It will dramatically put Johor as a strategic link to Singapore on another level. Travelling between Johor and Singapore will become much easier and faster. I am looking forward to the RTS," he said in an interview in conjunction with Chinese New Year.
He said the prices of properties would go up, as the RTS would make living and working in Johor more conducive for both sides.
"There is mutual benefit from RTS, as the link will lessen the pressure on space in Singapore. It will further integrate the two communities.
"Johor hopes to offer itself as a technological and medical hub. There is enormous potential," he added.
He also said that there would be a stronger boost to the hotel, hospitality and tourism sectors in Johor.
The 4km RTS Link - 2.7km of the route in Malaysia and 1.3km in Singapore - will link Johor's Bukit Chagar terminus station to the Singapore terminus in Woodlands North.
Project construction in Bukit Chagar began in November last year, with Malaysia starting a three-month public inspection of the RTS Link project last month.
The RTS Link stations will be integrated with local transport networks in Johor and Woodlands.
Malaysian transport minister Wee Ka Siong had said that out of the 4km line, an elevated stretch of 2.7km would stand within Malaysian boundary.
The line would go underground as it reached Singapore, said Datuk Seri Wee.
With a capacity of up to 10,000 passengers per hour per direction, the RTS Link is expected to carry up to 300,000 passengers a day.
The journey time will be only five minutes and during peak hours, trains will commute at an interval of 3.6 minutes.
The Sultan of Johor said the RTS would bring huge economic benefits to Johor and put an end to the longstanding traffic congestion problem at the Causeway.
"There will also be spin-off effects from the construction of the RTS, as thousands of jobs will be created for Johoreans, especially local contractors and suppliers," he said.
The total cost of the RTS project, which was earlier suspended at Malaysia's request, is estimated at RM10 billion (S$3.25 billion).
Both governments have agreed to a split of 61:39, with Malaysia forking out RM3.716 billion for the project.
Mr Wee had also said that for the purpose of Customs, Immigration and Quarantine (CIQ) clearance, a new CIQ facility would be built for passengers of the RTS Link, separate from the existing CIQ.
According to the revised bilateral agreements, the depot of the project has been switched from the existing Thomson-East Coast Line Mandai depot in Singapore to a new location in Wadi Hana in Johor Baru.
The RTS Link project was meant to be completed in 2024, but work was suspended. The suspension was extended three times at Malaysia's request.
On July 30 last year, Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin and his Singaporean counterpart Lee Hsien Loong attended the ceremony at the midway point of the Causeway that marked the resumption of the RTS project.
The project is now slated to be completed by end-2026.
The RTS is located within the Ibrahim International Business District (IIBD) encompassing over 100ha of the existing Johor Baru city centre, which is poised to become the next economic growth zone.