SINGAPORE – The construction of the Johor Bahru-Singapore Rapid Transit System (RTS) Link is progressing well, with 45 per cent of the work on the Singapore side completed.
Transport Minister S. Iswaran provided the update on Friday when he visited the work site in Admiralty Road West.
He said: “We are on track to achieve the completion goal so that the system can be operational by the end of 2026, and this is what both sides are working towards.”
Mr Iswaran described the new link as an “important addition” to the existing road connectivities between Singapore and Malaysia as it will also promote “people to people, economic and other linkages as well”.
When the 4km RTS Link shuttle service starts operating, passengers will be able to travel from the Bukit Chagar station in Johor Bahru to the Woodlands North station, or in the reverse direction, in about five minutes.
The train service can serve up to 10,000 passengers per hour in each direction.
Passengers will also be able to transfer from the RTS station to the Thomson-East Coast Line concourse via an underground link, without needing to exit the station.
The RTS is expected to help ease congestion on the Causeway.
In March 2023, the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) in Singapore said that peak-hour traffic volumes through the Woodlands and Tuas checkpoints have returned to pre-Covid-19 levels.
On Friday, Mr Iswaran took a boat ride out to the Strait of Johor to view one of the foundations on the Singapore side of the project – the furthest from the island.
Done in three stages, 5,000 cubic m of concrete – enough to fill 2½ Olympic-size swimming pools – are needed to build just one of the 12 foundations to be used for the 730m-long rail viaduct on the Singapore side of the RTS Link.
Nine of the 12 foundations are located in the Strait of Johor. On average, they reach 30m deep into the seabed. The remaining three are sited on land.
Mr Iswaran said that construction of the 12 foundations is expected to be completed by the first quarter of 2024.
When the platforms are done, vertical columns will be erected to shoulder concrete segments that form the rail viaduct.
A total of 207 such segments will be built. Each weighs as much as 180 tonnes,and spans between 50m and 110m in length.
The massive weight of these segments poses an engineering challenge to lift them into position safely.
In the middle of the Strait of Johor, the viaduct will stand 25m above the water level. As it nears the Singapore side, the height will be lowered gradually to meet the underground tunnels connecting to the underground RTS Link Woodlands North station.
Commuters will be able to connect to the new Customs, immigration and quarantine (CIQ) building through an underground link which is being built.
As will be the case at Bukit Chagar station, the CIQ facilities of both Singapore and Malaysia will be co-located within the same building at Woodlands North.
This means that passengers need to only clear the immigration authorities at their point of departure instead of having to do it a second time when they arrive, as is the current practice for land border crossings.
In a statement, The Land Transport Authority called the RTS Link a “game changer that will significantly improve connectivity between Singapore and Johor Bahru, and ease congestion along the Causeway”.