Singapore, Malaysia sign railway deal

PM Lee and Najib launch Marina One and DUO joint development projects

Najib and his Singapore counterpart Lee Hsien Loong were asked whether the two governments could give an assurance that the Rapid Transit System (RTS) and High-Speed Rail (HSR) would still proceed despite any change in the political environment, taking into account the coming Malaysian general election.

In a joint statement on the 8th Singapore-Malaysia Leaders' Retreat on Tuesday, both leaders welcomed Malaysia's removal of the Eastern Dispersal Link (EDL) toll effective from Jan 1, and Singapore's matching of the toll reduction with effect from Feb 1.

A so-called Infrastructure Company, or InfraCo, will fund, build, and maintain the civil infrastructure and stations within their respective territories, according to a statement. The project's original goal was to have the link operational by 2018.

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.

Following the commencement of the RTS link passenger service, all KTMB railway services in Singapore will eventually stop within six months. "The companies have committed to incorporate the JV by 30 June 2018, and to sign the concession agreement by 30 September 2018". Subsequent operating concessions would be awarded by open tender.

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Lee said the RTS Link is an important long-term cross-border project, and it will benefit thousands of daily commuters as well as reduce the congestion of Singapore-Johor Causeway, which links Johor Bahru across the Strait of Johor to the town of Woodlands in Singapore.

To benefit from economies of scale, the RTS Link is to utilise the same rolling stock, signalling, communication and control technologies as the Thomson-East Coast Line which is now under construction in Singapore and will have its northern terminus at Woodlands North.

The bilateral agreement between the two richest Southeast Asian nations outlines the four-kilometer project's key points, including technical issues, safety requirements, commercial, financing, procurement and regulatory frameworks. Heavy maintenance is to be outsourced to TEL operator SMRT Trains and undertaken at the TEL's Mandai depot, and there would also be a light maintenance facility at Bukit Chagar.

Datuk Seri Najib Razak and Lee Hsien Loong (right) at a press conference in Singapore.

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