19 November 2012

Malaysia-Singapore Rapid Transit System feasibility study to be ready soon

JOHOR BARU: Malaysia and Singapore have a year starting from next month to make their decision on the Malaysia-Singapore Rapid Transit System (RTS) link project. Iskandar Regional Development Authority (Irda) chief executive officer Datuk Ismail Ibrahim said the feasibility study on the project would be completed by the end of this month.

He said phase one of the joint-engineering study would focus on the various alignments, customs, immigration and quarantine-related matters and multimodal terminal locations and other critical perimeters.

“Although both countries have a year to discuss the matter, they don’t really have to wait to complete the cycle before making the announcement,” Ismail told StarBiz.

He said a joint-announcement could be made any time from December until November 2013, if they found the study was good and the project was viable.

Ismail said the announcement could either be made in the first or third quarter of 2013, or even a month after the study was submitted to the respective government. “Although both countries have a year to discuss the matter, they don’t really have to wait to complete the cycle before making the announcement,’’ Ismail told StarBiz. “Although both countries have a year to discuss the matter, they don’t really have to wait to complete the cycle before making the announcement,’’ Ismail told StarBiz.

“This one year time-frame doesn’t mean a delay. We are giving ourselves ample time to study the project, but it must be running and operating by 2018,” he said.

He said Malaysia and Singapore need to consult their respective agencies and discuss the project at the top level, before cascading it to the implementing agencies.

“There are three possibilities or options for the RTS project linking Johor Baru and Singapore,” said Ismail.

He said the first option was to build another Causeway or a land bridge, while the second one was an elevated bridge and the last choice was to build a tunnel.

Ismail explained an elevated bridge could be a low bridge with an elevation of below 15m and impassable by boats or a high bridge of at least seven storey high or more than 35m high and passable to large vessels.

He said the third option was a tunnel a tube tunnel made elsewhere and sank from the surface of the sea or a bore tunnel involving drilling work like the Smart tunnel in Kuala Lumpur.

“Which is the better choice (the RTS link) will depend on the recommendations of the study, engineering point of view, costing as well as environmental impact,” said Ismail.

He said the undersea tunnel was more favourable as it would have minimal disruptions to traffic movements during construction as the project would be located near to the CIQ complexes of Malaysia and Singapore.

However, Ismail said the final outcome on what kind of link was the prerogative of both governments, adding that Johor and Irda would welcome any of the choice made by the two countries.

“The main idea of having the new link is to cater for the people’s movement and to accommodate for bigger volume and improve connectivity and accessibility between Johor Baru and Singapore,” he said.

Ismail hoped that the final choice made on the link would result in a permanent solution in solving the current congestion on the existing Causeway.

In May this year, Malaysia and Singapore had announced that both countries would undertake a project to improve connectivity by opening a RTS from Singapore to Johor Baru by 2018.

The joint Singapore-Malaysia statement said that the terminating stations of the link would be in the city of JB Sentral here and the vicinity of Republic Polytechnic in Singapore.

It added that the RTS link was targeted to be up and operating by 2018 and to have a co-located facility in Singapore and Johor Baru so that commuters needed to clear immigration only once for each way of travel.

Source: biz.thestar.com.my

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