|Singapore–Johor Bahru RTS Link|
|Line length||4 km (Under planning)|
Bukit Chagar (Light Maintenance Facility)
|Rolling stock||Kawasaki-Sifang CT251|
|Electrification||750 V DC third rail|
|Track gauge||Standard Gauge (1435mm)|
|Opening||End 2024 (Delayed)|
The Singapore–Johor Bahru Rapid Transit System, or the RTS Link, is a future rapid transit line currently under planning. The line is conceived as a high-volume shuttle service connecting Singapore and Johor Bahru, Malaysia.
First announced in 2010, the Singapore terminus of the route will be at Woodlands North station, connecting with the Thomson-East Coast Line (TEL). The Malaysian terminus will be at Bukit Chagar near JB Sentral, connecting with the Keretapi Tanah Melayu (KTM) station for intercity rail services. Immigration facilities will be co-located on both sides of the border, such that passengers will clear customs of both countries at their point of departure.
The line will also adopt the Thomson-East Coast Line’s systems, including its signalling system, rolling stock, communication system and integrated supervisory control system, to reap economies of scale. As such, the rolling stock will be the Kawasaki Heavy Industries & CRRC Qingdao Sifang CT251, operating in a four-car formation and based out of Mandai Depot in Singapore.
Originally, the line was projected to be opened by 31 December 2024. However, in a response by Singapore Transport Minister Mr Khaw Boon Wan in Parliament on 14 January 2019, it was announced that the project completion date would likely be delayed beyond the original target of 31 December 2024 as “several milestones have been missed”.
Timeline & History
- May 2010: Plans announced for a Rapid Transit System Link between Singapore and Johor Bahru
- June 2011: Singapore terminus confirmed at Woodlands North, interchanging with Thomson Line
- May 2012: Preliminary Engineering Study carried out by Aecom
- September 2015: Malaysia terminus confirmed at Bukit Chagar
- July 2016: Phase 2 Engineering Study carried out
- 2016 (13 Dec): High bridge chosen for Johor Strait crossing, Thomson-East Coast Line’s systems adopted
- 2017 (31 Jul): Timeframe of December 2024 set, intention to appoint joint venture company
- 2017 (25 Sep): SMRT, Prasarana sign MOU to form joint venture company
- 2018 (16 Jan): Bilateral Agreement signed
- 2018 (31 Jan): Contract T232 for RTS Link construction published (Stations, Tunnel and CIQ Building)
- 2018 (09 Feb): Prasarana, SMRT accepted Letter of Offer jointly issued by SG/MY governments, to form a joint venture company (JV Co) before 30 June 2018
- 2018 (01 Jun): Original planned signing of JV Co date; Malaysia Transport Minister Anthony Loke announced delay of signing till 30 June 2018.
- 2018 (30 Jun): Deadline of forming of JV Co lapsed, with Malaysia considering replacing its joint venture partner
- 2018 (28 Sep): Contract T235 for RTS Link construction published (Viaducts and Tunnel)
- 2018 (30 Sep): Deadline of appointing JV Co as RTS Link operator (OpCo) through a Concession Agreement (CA) with LTA and the government of Malaysia lapsed
- 2018 (28 Dec): Malaysia requests deadline extension to 28 Feb 2019 to confirm the JV Partner
- 2019: Original projected start of construction work
- 2019 (28 Feb): Malaysia requests further deadline extension to 31 Mar 2019 to confirm the JV Partner
- 2019 (31 Mar): Deadline for calling of joint tender
- 2019 (01 Apr): Malaysia requested for 6 more months to deliberate on the RTS Link project
- 2019 (21 May): 6-month suspension of RTS Link construction till 30 Sep 2019.
- 2019 (Sep): 6-month extension further extended by 1 more month on request by the Malaysian government, stating that more time was needed to review the project.
- 2019 (10 Oct): Malaysia announces that decision to continue with the RTS Link would be announced ‘by the end of the month’
- 2019 (17 Oct): Malaysia confirms its decision to continue with the RTS Link, but warns that but says it would ‘take some time’
- 2019 (31 Oct): Malaysia confirms its decision to proceed with RTS Link construction; revised project cost of RM3.16 billion (S$1.03 billion) – 36 per cent less than the original. Suspension of project extended to 30 April 2020.
- 2020 (Apr): Suspension of project for ‘third and final time’ to 31 July 2020 at Malaysia’s request, due to change of Government in Malaysia and COVID-19 situation.
- 2024: Projected Opening of SG-JB RTS Link and ceasing of KTMB Shuttle Tebrau (within 6 months of RTS Link opening)
On 24 May 2010, at a Leaders’ Retreat attended by Singapore and Malaysian leaders, both countries agreed to pursue a Rapid Transit System Link between Johor Bahru and Singapore, enhancing connectivity between the two countries. The rapid transit system link will be integrated with public transport services in both Johor Bahru and Singapore, with co-located Customs, Inspection and Quarantine facilities on the Singapore side.
In June 2011, Singapore confirmed that it would site the RTS Link’s terminus at Woodlands North, interchanging with the future Thomson Line. Around the same time, discussions in Malaysia called for several stations in Johor Bahru, but no official plans were pursued.
In May 2012, a consortium of AECOM Singapore, AECOM Perunding and SA Architects were awarded a US$42 million contract co-funded by Malaysia’s Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) and Singapore’s Land Transport Authority (LTA) for a design and engineering consultancy for the RTS Link. The study was to determine the technical parameters and options for a convenient and cost-effective system that would be integrated with public transport services at both ends.
In September 2014, the Malaysian Ministry of Rural and Regional Development’s chairman stated that the RTS Link’s terminus would be sited at Bukit Chagar, over potential sites such as Tanjung Puteri and JB Sentral. However, it was only in September 2015, four years after Singapore, that the Malaysian Minister of Transport confirmed the Bukit Chagar plan, paving the way for the Phase 2 Engineering Study, intended to develop the detailed engineering design for the rapid transit system project.
At a joint news conference between Singapore and Malaysian leaders on 13 December 2016, a high bridge was chosen for the crossing of the Johor Strait, clearing the way for a bilateral agreement by the end of 2017. A decision was also made to adopt the Thomson-East Coast Line’s systems to reap economies of scale. As such, the RTS Link’s signalling system, rolling stock, communication system and integrated supervisory control system will be identical to that used on the TEL.
On 31 July 2017, at the Malaysia-Singapore Joint Ministerial Committee for Iskandar Malaysia, it was announced that passenger service on the RTS Link will begin by December 2024. Both governments also intend to jointly appoint an operating company to design, build, finance, operate, maintain and renew the RTS Link operating assets like trains, tracks and systems. On 25 September 2017, SMRT and Prasarana signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to form a joint venture company for the RTS Link.
On 16 January 2018, the landmark Bilateral Agreement was signed between the Singapore and Malaysia governments. Key points of agreement on the RTS Link project, including the technical, safety and security requirements, commercial, financing, procurement and regulatory frameworks, as well as customs, immigration and quarantine arrangements, were discussed.
On 9 February 2018, Prasarana Malaysia Berhad (Prasarana) and SMRT Corporation Ltd (SMRT) accepted a Letter of Offer jointly issued by Malaysia’s Prime Minister’s Department (PMD) and Singapore’s Land Transport Authority (LTA) for the two companies to form a joint venture company (JV Co) to operate the Johor Bahru-Singapore Rapid Transit System Link (RTS Link) by 30 June 2018. The JV Co will design, build, finance, operate, maintain and renew the RTS Link operating assets such as trains, tracks and systems.
In the wake of the 2018 Malaysian general election, Malaysia reaffirmed its commitment to the RTS Link despite efforts to reduce its national debt. In end-July 2018, Malaysian Transport Minister Anthony Loke announced that a working paper would be presented to the Malaysian Cabinet for cost approval, and reaffirmed commitment to the 2024 deadline despite the delays.
On 28 September 2018, LTA called for tenders for the Construction of Viaduct and Tunnels for Rapid Transit System (RTS) Link (Contract Ref: T235). This was the second civil engineering tender to be published for the RTS Link, the first being the Construction of Station, Tunnels and CIQ Building for Rapid Transit Systems (RTS) Link (Contract Ref: T232) published in January 2018.
Throughout the rest of 2018, Malaysia repeatedly delayed Malaysia requests deadline extension to 28 Feb 2019 to confirm the JV Partner
Once the line begins passenger service, the existing KTMB Tebrau shuttle will cease operations.
The Line (LTA Press Release)
The RTS Link will have the capacity to carry up to 10,000 passengers per hour per direction, which translates to an additional capacity of 60,000 users crossing the Causeway during peak hours. To facilitate passenger flow, it will have co-located Custom, Immigration and Quarantine (CIQ) facilities in both Bukit Chagar and Woodlands North. Passengers travelling in either direction will clear both Malaysia and Singapore authorities at the point of departure, and need not go through immigration clearance again at the point of arrival. The RTS Link’s capacity of 10,000 passengers per hour per direction (pphpd) is much higher than the average 300 (pphpd) that the Keretapi Tanah Melayu Berhad’s (KTMB) Tebrau Shuttle is ferrying today. The KTMB Tebrau Shuttle services to Singapore will cease six months after the RTS Link passenger service begins, targeted by December 2024.
The RTS Link will cross the Straits of Johor via a 25m-high bridge, linking the Bukit Chagar Station in Johor Bahru to the RTS Link Woodlands North Station in Singapore to (See Annex A). For economies of scale, the RTS Link will utilise the same four core systems (trains, signalling system, communications system, and Integrated Supervisory Control System) as Singapore’s upcoming Thomson-East Coast Line (TEL). Heavy maintenance will be outsourced to the TEL Operator – SMRT Trains – at the TEL’s Mandai Depot, though there will also be a light maintenance facility at Bukit Chagar.
Each country will appoint an Infrastructure Company (InfraCo) to fund, build, own, maintain, and renew the civil infrastructure and stations within their respective territories. Malaysia’s InfraCo will be Prasarana Malaysia Berhad, while Singapore’s InfraCo will be LTA. Both Governments will jointly appoint an operating company (OpCo) to own, design, build, finance, operate, maintain and renew the RTS Link’s operating assets (e.g. trains, tracks, systems). The OpCo will pay a concession fee to the two countries in exchange for the right to collect fare revenue from operating the RTS Link. Fares will be set commercially by the OpCo, and will not be regulated by the two Governments.
Both Governments agree that for the first concession period, which will cover the first 30 years of operations, the OpCo will be a joint venture between a Malaysian company and a Singaporean company. Both Governments welcomed the exchange of letters between the Malaysian Prime Minister’s Department, Prasarana Malaysia Berhad, LTA, and SMRT Corporation Ltd, recording their commitment for Prasarana and SMRT to form a Joint Venture (JV) Company to be the OpCo for the first concession period. The companies have committed to incorporate the JV by 30 June 2018, and to sign the concession agreement by 30 September 2018. Subsequent concessions will be awarded through open tender.
- Bukit Chagar (Malaysia)
- Woodlands North (Singapore)
The RTS Link is expected to use trains manufactured by Kawasaki Heavy Industries & CRRC Qingdao Sifang under Contract T251 (CT251 trainsets), operating in a four-car formation. These trains will feature tip-up seats and five doors on each side of every carriage to facilitate smoother boarding and alighting.
External Links & References:
- AECOM wins contract for Johor-Singapore rapid transit link study – Railway Technology
- Preliminary engineering study on Rapid Transit System link to Johor Bahru completed – Channel News Asia
- Bukit Chagar chosen as final transit terminal – New Straits Times
- Bukit Chagar picked as main RTS terminal – The Star
- Singapore-JB Rapid Transit System to be linked via high bridge over Straits of Johor – Channel News Asia
- Singapore-JB Rapid Transit System to begin passenger service by 2024 – Channel News Asia
- SMRT, Prasarana sign MOU to form joint venture company for JB-Singapore RTS Link – Channel News Asia
- Working paper on JB-Singapore RTS link to be tabled to Cabinet soon: Malaysia transport minister – Channel News Asia
- Minister: RM4b Johor-Singapore RTS link to go ahead as planned – Malay Mail
- Johor Baru-Singapore RTS link behind schedule, likely delayed beyond 2024: Khaw – Today Online
- Putrajaya seeks six-month extension to deliberate on Johor-Singapore RTS link – Malay Mail
- Singapore, Malaysia to defer Johor Baru-Woodlands RTS Link till Sept 30 – Straits Times
- Bilateral agreement deadline for JB-Singapore RTS project extended by 3 months to July 31 – Straits Times