Singapore, Malaysia hope to ink deal on Rapid Transit System linking Woodlands North, Johor Baru in 2017

A bilateral agreement for a Rapid Transit System linking Woodlands with Johor Baru is expected to be inked next year. PHOTO: ST FILE

PUTRAJAYA - A bilateral agreement for a cross-border MRT system between Singapore and Johor Baru is expected to be inked by the end of next year (2017).

The Rapid Transit System (RTS) will connect to the Thomson-East Coast Line (TEL), and will adopt the same systems and trains as the TEL to reap economies of scale.

It will link the Bukit Chagar terminus station in Johor to the Singapore terminal in Woodlands North via a high bridge across the Strait of Johor.

Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his Malaysian counterpart Najib Razak endorsed the technical details for the RTS link at their annual leaders' retreat on Tuesday (Dec 13) in Putrajaya.

Both leaders told a joint press conference that officials from both countries have discussed the matter for some time and feel the high bridge is the most cost-efficient solution.

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The cross-border link was first announced by Singapore and Malaysia in May 2010, and was initially targeted to be ready by 2018.

PM Lee said he hoped a bilateral agreement on the RTS could be inked by the end of next year.

A new completion date and the detailed alignment for the link have not been finalised yet.

It will be operated by a corporate entity. Fares will also be market-based and set by the operator.

When ready, it will allow commuters here to hop on the 43km TEL, transfer to the cross-border link at Woodlands North station near Republic Polytechnic, and take a train into Johor Baru.

American conglomerate GE has been appointed to supply the signalling system and platform screen doors for the TEL. Singapore Technologies Electronics (STE) will provide the communications systems, including sub-systems such as video surveillance and travel information systems.

The Land Transport Authority has also bought 91 four-car trains for the TEL, awarding a contract to a consortium formed by Japanese firm Kawasaki Heavy Industries and Chinese company CSR Qingdao Sifang Co.

The fully automated and driverless trains will be the first in Singapore with five doors on each side of each car to allow smoother passenger boarding and alighting.

The 31- station TEL will open in phases from 2019 to 2024. It runs from Woodlands to Sungei Bedok in the east.

In a Facebook post on Tuesday evening, Foreign Affairs Minister Vivian Balakrishnan said: "Our relationship with Malaysia is strong and flourishing. We are bound by history, kinship, culture and strong people-to-people ties."

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