JB-S'pore RTS Link set to boost state economy: Johor Sultan

JOHOR BARU • Johor can expect a further boost to its economy in five years' time, when the Johor Baru-Singapore Rapid Transit System (RTS) Link is completed, and takes commuters to the Republic in only five minutes, 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.

Sultan Ibrahim also said the prices of properties would go up as the RTS would make living and working in Johor more conducive for both sides.

He added: "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."

The Sultan 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.

The RTS Link stations will be integrated with local transport networks in Johor and Woodlands.

Said the Johor ruler: "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."

Project construction in Bukit Chagar began in November last year.

Malaysian Transport Minister Wee Ka Siong had said that out of the 4km line, an elevated stretch of 2.7km would stand within the Malaysian boundary.

The line would go underground as it reached Singapore, said Datuk Seri Wee.

The RTS Link will have a capacity of up to 10,000 passengers an hour in either direction.

The journey time will be only five minutes after clearing immigration.

During peak hours, trains will commute at an interval of 3.6 minutes.

The total cost of the RTS project is estimated at RM10 billion (S$3.27 billion).

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 revised bilateral agreements, the depot of the project has been switched from the existing Thomson-East Coast Line's 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 following a change of government in Malaysia in May 2018.

The suspension had been extended three times at Malaysia's request.

On July 30 last year, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his Malaysian counterpart Muhyiddin Yassin attended a ceremony at the midway point of the Causeway to mark the resumption of the project.

It is now slated to be completed by end-2026.

The RTS is located within the Ibrahim International Business District, encompassing more than 100ha of the existing Johor Baru city centre, which is poised to become Malaysia's next economic growth zone.

The Johor state capital is poised to complement Singapore and provide ample land and a cheaper workforce for many industries, where investors can either live in Johor and commute or even set up their offices in the city.

THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 23, 2021, with the headline 'JB-S'pore RTS Link set to boost state economy: Johor Sultan'. Subscribe