Residents in Johor eager for RTS Link to start operations

Malaysian minister promises JB-Singapore rail connection will be completed by 2026

The launch of the Rapid Transit System Link between Johor Baru and Singapore has excited many in the southern Malaysian state. When completed, the journey between Bukit Chagar station in Johor Baru and Woodlands North station in Singapore will take o
The launch of the Rapid Transit System Link between Johor Baru and Singapore has excited many in the southern Malaysian state. When completed, the journey between Bukit Chagar station in Johor Baru and Woodlands North station in Singapore will take only five minutes.PHOTO: THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

JOHOR BARU • Malaysian Transport Minister Wee Ka Siong has assured Johor's Sultan Ibrahim Iskandar, that the Rapid Transit System (RTS) Link between Johor Baru and Singapore will be completed within the stipulated time frame.

In a video presented during the virtual ground-breaking ceremony of the mega project and posted on his Facebook page on Sunday, Datuk Seri Wee said the project will bring maximum positive impact to the people of Johor.

"As the representative of the Transport Ministry, which is the overseer of the project, I assure the commitment of the government in making sure that the project would be carried out effectively and in an organised manner, while also being completed by the set time, which is by 2026," he said.

His ministry hopes the project would bring positive economic impact to industries such as tourism and real estate, especially in Johor.

In another Facebook post, Mr Wee said the RTS Link will function as a cost-effective transportation system that promises to boost connectivity. It would also provide easy, fast and comfortable access to the people who travel across the Malaysia-Singapore border. "This would also solve the traffic congestion problem faced at the entry points of both countries that has been going on for years," he said.

When completed, the journey between Bukit Chagar station in Johor Baru and Woodlands North station in Singapore will take only five minutes. The RTS can ferry up to 288,000 people per day.

Malaysia - through its Transport Ministry - will be forking out RM3.715 billion (S$1.22 billion) or 39 per cent of the total cost of the 4km link project, with the balance to be borne by Singapore.

Commuters will have to clear immigration only once, at the point of departure.

Meanwhile, Johor residents are excited that the project has finally started, as many have been waiting for it for more than a decade.

Businessman S. Sures, 48, said: "It will allow Johor, especially Johor Baru, to benefit from the higher number of visitors from Singapore entering through the RTS."

"Most local businesses are highly dependent on visitors from Singapore. The RTS will bring positive economic growth to the state, including for small businesses like mine," said the owner of a shop selling clothes and textiles.

Easy access to public transportation across the border will help the southern Malaysian state recover from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. "If the project is completed as scheduled, which is by 2026, it can help us rebuild the economy," he added.

Restaurant owner Tan Kim Hock, 58, is expecting the RTS Link to bring more customers from the Republic to his shop, as well as making it easier for him to visit his family members in Singapore.

"The congestion at the Causeway and Second Link has been a huge problem. I have, at times, cancelled trips to Singapore due to the traffic. I hope the RTS Link can end my travel woes," he said.

Taxi driver Abdul Razak Abd Rahman, 57, said the RTS would boost the tourism industry in Johor.

"I think it would not only bring positive spillover impact on Johor Baru but also other districts in the state, such as Mersing and Kota Tinggi, that are famous for their beaches and islands," he said.

School teacher Ngoi Fee Min, 38, said the RTS means that those working in Singapore can come home more often without having to sit through hours of traffic on the Causeway.

She said her husband, a technical team manager, commuted to and fro between Johor Baru and Singapore daily before the Covid-19 pandemic, but decided to remain in Singapore, as he got tired of the traffic jam. "Hopefully, with the RTS, my husband can move back home and we can spend more time together as a family," she said.

And those studying in Singapore "can benefit, as they do not need to wake up at 3am or 4am just to beat the jam to travel across the Causeway", said the mother of two.

THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 24, 2020, with the headline 'Residents in Johor eager for RTS Link to start operations'. Print Edition | Subscribe