SINGAPORE - Commuters will be able to take an MRT ride across the border to Johor Baru by Dec 31, 2024.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak on Tuesday (Jan 16) witnessed the signing of a bilateral agreement to build the Johor Baru-Singapore Rapid Transit System (RTS) Link.
Rail operators SMRT and Prasarana Malaysia will form a joint venture by June this year to run the RTS Link.
Looking forward to it? Here are some things to know:
1. There will be a train every 8 minutes
When it is ready by Dec 31, 2024, commuters can hop on a train every eight minutes on average. Trains will eventually arrive every four minutes on average during peak periods.
The line will start with five trains, and gradually have a total fleet of seven trains.
The link can carry up to 10,000 passengers per hour in each direction. This means 60,000 additional commuters will be able to cross the Causeway during peak hours. Currently, an average of 300 passengers travel in each direction per hour using the daily shuttle train service between Woodlands and Johor Baru.
2. Start your journey at Woodlands North
The line will link Bukit Chagar station in Johor Baru, near Sentral train station, to the Singapore terminus in Woodlands North, where commuters can transfer to the upcoming Thomson-East Coast MRT Line (TEL).
The TEL is expected to open in phases from 2019 to 2024, and will comprise 31 stations stretching from Woodlands in the North to Sungei Bedok.
3. Passengers need to clear customs only once
The link will have a joint customs, immigration and quarantine facility at both terminus stations.
Passengers who are crossing the border will need to clear customs and immigration only when they depart from either Singapore or Malaysia.
4. The 4km link will cross the Straits of Johor via a 25m-high bridge
The tracks will cross the Strait of Johor in a straight line rather than curving over water, taking into account the Johor Sultan's earlier reservations about the project. It will make a bend over land in Malaysia instead.
5. Fares will be set by joint venture company
Fares will be set by the joint venture company between SMRT and Prasarana Malaysia. It will not be regulated by the two governments.
6. The end of KTM shuttle train
Within six months after the link starts operations, the Keretapi Tanah Melayu Tebrau (KTM) Shuttle will cease.
The KTM train service has been running 26 daily trips since June 1 last year to cope with higher demand.
7. Possible redevelopment of Woodlands checkpoint
Last August, Mr Khaw said the opening of the link will allow the Woodlands Checkpoint to be redeveloped, after the train shuttle service ends and land is freed up.
"Then, hopefully, this problem of the Causeway jam can be significantly mitigated or even eliminated," he had said.