JB-Woodlands rail link

Johor Sultan agrees to straight bridge

JOHOR BARU • The ruler of Johor has agreed to the construction of a straight elevated bridge for a new rail line linking Johor Baru and Woodlands, Malaysia's land transport authority said yesterday.

The earlier plan was for a curved bridge for the Rapid Transit System (RTS) Link across the Strait of Johor.

Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar agreed on the revised route as proposed by the Land Public Transport Commission (Spad) after a meeting on Wednesday.

The ruler said in August that the curved bridge idea was impractical, unsustainable and potentially costly.

"His Majesty agreed to the option of a 25m-high bridge which will cross the Strait of Johor in a straight line while still complying with Marine Department technical guidelines for a minimum 25m air draught clearance," Spad said in a statement.

"His Majesty also stressed the importance of ensuring adequate traffic dispersal at the RTS Bukit Chagar station area, and Spad will act on it."

Asked for its reaction, a spokesman for Singapore's Ministry of Transport said: "Singapore has been in discussions with the Malaysian government on various aspects of the Johor Baru-Singapore RTS Link project, including its alignment."

The RTS link will connect Bukit Chagar in Johor Baru and the planned Woodlands North MRT station, which is part of the upcoming Thomson-East Coast (TEL) Line.

The TEL MRT line is expected to open in phases from 2019 to 2024. Singapore and Malaysia have agreed to jointly appoint an operating company to run and maintain the cross-border line's operating systems, with Singapore's SMRT Corp and Malaysia's Prasarana being invited to be part of the venture.

In August, Sultan Ibrahim told the New Straits Times in an interview that while he welcomed the RTS, he disagreed with the overall curved design of the bridge as well as building it 30m above water in the middle of the Strait of Johor. He said such a design would disrupt the Johor Baru city skyline.

The RTS, which was announced seven years ago, is expected to accommodate up to 10,000 passengers an hour in each direction between the two terminus stations.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 18, 2017, with the headline 'Johor Sultan agrees to straight bridge'. Print Edition | Subscribe