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The Transport Ministers of Singapore and Malaysia have signed a bilateral agreement to develop a cross-border urban rail link between Singapore and Johor Bahru, Malaysia. The project will be developed in a similar manner to the US$9.6 billion Kuala Lumpur-Singapore high speed rail project, for which the governments launched a tender in December.
The 4km rapid transit system (RTS) will link Bukit Chagar station in Johor Baru, in the south of Malaysia, to the Singapore terminus in Woodlands North, serving as an alternative to the 1km causeway that links Johor Bahru and Woodlands North across the Straits of Johor. The causeway can take up to two hours to cross by car. It is thought that the RTS trains will cross the strait via a 25m-high bridge.
The line will start with five trains, and eventually have a total fleet of seven trains. They will run every eight minutes on average, and every four minutes on average during peak periods, carrying up to 10,000 passengers per hour in each direction.
Currently, an average of 300 passengers travel in each direction per hour using the daily shuttle train service between Woodlands and Johor Baru, meaning the RTS will greatly expand opportunities for cross-border commuting.
Following the arrangement of the Singapore-Kuala Lumpur high-speed line, the civil infrastructure and rail stations in each country will be financed, constructed, owned and maintained by government-owned bodies in their respective territories - the Land Transport Authority of Singapore and Prasarana, a public transport operator in Malaysia.
The two governments will jointly contract a private partner to design, build, finance, operate and maintain the operating assets of the line, including track, signalling and rolling stock, for a period of 30 years. The company or consortium selected will pay a concession fee to the two governments in return for the right to collect fares revenue from the operation of the line. Fares will be set commercially by the operator and will not be regulated by the two governments.
It is hoped that the concession agreement will be signed by the end of September. The cost of the project will be finalised by the end of the year once its design has been agreed with the concessionaire. The line is due to open in December 2024.
As reported on this platform, the predecessor to this project, the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore HSR PPP should also be signed this year. The deadline to submit proposals is 29 June 2018.