KL wants six more months to mull over JB-Woodlands rapid transit link

Malaysian Transport Minister Anthony Loke said his country is asking for more time from Singapore to study other options in the project.
Malaysian Transport Minister Anthony Loke said his country is asking for more time from Singapore to study other options in the project.

KUALA LUMPUR • Malaysia is asking for six more months from Singapore to deliberate on the Rapid Transit System (RTS) that will link Johor Baru to Singapore.

Transport Minister Anthony Loke said Malaysia needs until September to study how it can reduce the cost of the RTS and how the link will be utilised, Malaysian media reported yesterday. He had estimated its cost at RM4 billion (S$1.33 billion).

Singapore's Acting Transport Minister Vivian Balakrishnan told Parliament early last month that Malaysia had asked for another extension of the deadline to March 31.

He said then that the RTS service was no longer on track to start operations by Dec 31, 2024.

The other cross-border rail line, the High-Speed Rail project to link Kuala Lumpur to Jurong West, has also been in limbo since the change in the Malaysian government in the May 2018 General Election.

Mr Loke told reporters in the lobby of the Malaysian Parliament: "We are asking for more time from Singapore for us to study other options (in the RTS project).

"We are asking for a six-month extension."

Transport Minister Anthony Loke said Malaysia needs until September to study how it can reduce the cost of the RTS and how the link will be utilised.

The 4km RTS line aims to link the upcoming Woodlands North station on Singapore's Thomson-East Coast MRT Line to Bukit Chagar in Johor Baru, and would transport as many as 10,000 travellers in one direction an hour.

Speaking about the RTS, Dr Balakrishnan on March 7 had said both governments were at the stage where they are obliged to jointly call an open tender to appoint the RTS Link Operating Company, or OpCo. "In the spirit of bilateral cooperation, Singapore has been willing to engage Malaysia on its proposals for Malaysia's joint venture (JV) partner for the RTS Link OpCo," he said.

"Unfortunately, Malaysia has repeatedly delayed confirming its JV partner."

Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan had said in January that Singapore will continue to take a "constructive approach" to move the project forward, and remains fully committed to implementing it.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 02, 2019, with the headline 'KL wants six more months to mull over JB-Woodlands rapid transit link'. Print Edition | Subscribe