KUALA LUMPUR (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Malaysia is in talks with Singapore to increase the Tebrau Shuttle service to 36 trips daily next year, Malaysia's transport minister has said.
Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said the two governments were discussing adding five more trips per day to the shuttle train which runs between JB Sentral in Johor and Woodlands in Singapore.
"We are discussing this. Hopefully, Singapore will approve," he told reporters after distributing festive goodie bags to commuters in Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday (Feb 14).
He said Singapore had previously limited the number of shuttle trips.
"Thanks to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, who discussed the matter with Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, we managed to increase the frequency of the service recently," Mr Liow added.
Both countries worked with Malaysian rail company Keretapi Tanah Melayu Bhd (KTM) to increase the frequency of the shuttle from 26 trips to 31 daily from Tuesday (Feb 13), in time for the Chinese New Year travel crowds.
As all KTM Intercity trains now terminate at JB Sentral station, the shuttle is the only way to travel between Malaysia and Singapore by train, with the journey across the Causeway taking just five minutes.
The two countries recently issued a tender for the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore high-speed rail project which is targeted to be completed by 2026.
Mr Liow said it was becoming popular for Malaysians to use the railway to return to their hometowns to celebrate the festive period.
"About 80 per cent of tickets offered by KTM for the Chinese New Year were sold out," he said, adding that a total of 170,000 tickets were offered between Feb 10 and 23.
He said the transport ministry encouraged more people to use the rail during festive seasons, when there were usually over 200 road fatalities, with an average of 19 deaths daily.