Malaysia announces winning design for Johor-S'pore RTS Link station in Bukit Chagar

The winning design was inspired by the historical and intertwined relationship between Johor Bahru and Singapore. PHOTO: MRT CORP
The winning design was inspired by the historical and intertwined relationship between Johor Bahru and Singapore. PHOTO: MRT CORP

KUALA LUMPUR - The future Johor Baru-Singapore Rapid Transit System (RTS) Link Station in Bukit Chagar will be "modern and futuristic", featuring an intertwined roof inspired by the concept of two hands holding each other by the wrists.

It will have natural lighting and self cleaning glass, which will reduce maintenance cost.

The winning design for the station unveiled in Malaysia on Friday is the work of Johorean architect Chin Yee Chong who bagged RM250,000 (S$82,241) in prize money in the Facade Design Ideas Competition.

Mr Chin's design - the "Integration of Two" - signifies Johor and Singapore's relationship and history, said Malaysia's Mass Rapid Transit Corporation (MRT Corp) chief executive officer Mohd Zarif Hashim.

"It is very modern and futuristic. It will be a design all of us will be proud of... An iconic landmark in Johor once it's completed," Datuk Zarif said, announcing the winning design at a virtual press conference on Friday (Feb 19).

"The four-storey building will be used to co-locate the Immigration, Customs and Quarantine (CIQ). It will be part of a transit-oriented development in the future," he said.

The Facade Design Ideas Competition, jointly organised by MRT Corp and Pertubuhan Akitek Malaysia, tapped the talents of Malaysian architects to discover a fitting design for the RTS Link station.

For winning the competition, Mr Chin, who is from Johor Baru-based SM Architects, took home RM250,000 (S$82,100).

The competition was launched on Nov 23 last year, a day after the ground-breaking ceremony for the project, and ran until Jan 25 this year.

The 4km RTS Link - 2.7km of the route in Malaysia and 1.3km in Singapore - will link JB's Bukit Chagar station to Singapore's Woodlands North MRT station.

It will take commuters about five minutes to reach Bukit Chagar station from Woodlands North station, after clearing immigration. The rail service can carry up to 10,000 passengers per hour in each direction.

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 the local transport networks in Johor and in Woodlands.

The brainchild of Johor Sultan Ibrahim Ismail, the station design competition received 91 submissions.

The winning design will be built using light-weight composite materials.

Asked if commuters would need to clear immigration on both sides, Mr Zarif said: "They would have to get clearance from both but it will be done in the same building.

"Commuters need to clear formalities with the Johor immigration first before going one floor up and do the same with the Singapore side, and then board the train. Once in Woodlands, they can just go off and about."

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Once the project is up and running, the rail operation efficiency is his utmost concern, said Mr Zarif.

"I must say that after we complete this project, my concern is whether we'll be able to deliver up to expectations, moving people seamlessly between the two countries within a 15-minute time frame," he was quoted on Friday by The Business Times.

"If you ask me, my wish is that we can clear border formalities in Malaysia within five minutes, clear formalities on the Singapore side in five minutes, and take a train ride in five minutes," he said.

The winning design was inspired by the historical and intertwined relationship between Johor Bahru and Singapore. PHOTO: MRT CORP

The CIQ facilities for both Singapore and Malaysia will also be co-located at each station, meaning commuters will have to clear immigration only once, at their point of departure.

First announced in 2010, the rail link project was initially targeted to be ready by 2018. A new starting date of end-2024 was agreed in 2017 and both countries signed a deal the following year, with construction due to start in 2019.

But the project stalled after the Pakatan Harapan government came to power in Malaysia in May 2018. The project was suspended for six months at Malaysia's request to review its scope, structure and costs. The deadline to agree on new terms was extended four times before the project got back on track in July last year, one day before the final deadline.

Several key changes were made, including the use of a standalone light rail transit (LRT) system instead of the same trains and systems as the Thomson-East Coast Line.

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