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RTS Link can be 'game changer' for cross-border travel: Ong Ye Kung

Nicholas Yong
·Assistant News Editor
·3 min read
Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung (middle) takes part in a sake barrel breaking ceremony for good luck, at the groundbreaking for the RTS Link Woodlands North Station on Friday, 22 January. The station will be constructed by Penta-Ocean Construction, a Japanese firm. (PHOTO: Nicholas Yong/Yahoo News Singapore)
Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung (middle) takes part in a sake barrel breaking ceremony for good luck, at the groundbreaking for the RTS Link Woodlands North Station on Friday, 22 January. The station will be constructed by Penta-Ocean Construction, a major Japanese construction firm. (PHOTO: Nicholas Yong/Yahoo News Singapore)

SINGAPORE — The long-delayed RTS Link will offer an “attractive alternative” in terms of cost and time for cross-border travel and promises to be a game-changer in easing congestion at the Causeway, said Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung on Friday (22 January).

Speaking at a groundbreaking ceremony for the RTS Link Woodlands North Station, located along Admiralty Road West, Ong added, “The RTS Link can potentially shift thousands of motorcycles and cars off the Causeway, while providing a faster and more comfortable commute.”

The RTS Link will connect Bukit Chagar in Johor Bahru to Woodlands in just five minutes, and is projected to open for service at the end of 2026.

Across the Causeway, Malaysia has already broken ground for the future Bukit Chagar station in Johor Bahru. And while the RTS Link consists of just two stations and is only 4km long, it will have a capacity of up to 10,000 commuters per hour per direction.

One of its key components: the Customs, Immigration and Quarantine (CIQ) facilities of both countries will be co-located for one stop clearance. This means that commuters can clear both countries’ immigration at one go at the point of departure.

The RTS Link stations will also be integrated with local transport networks. On Singapore’s end, it will be located beside the Woodlands North station of the Thomson-East Coast Line (TEL). Ong noted that there will also be a transport hub connected to both RTS and TEL stations, but did not give further details.

Long-awaited project

Last July, after three delays and more than a year, Singapore and Malaysia officially relaunched the RTS Link in a signing ceremony at the Causeway, with Prime Ministers Lee Hsien Loong and Muhyiddin Yassin in attendance.

The RTS Link was first agreed upon in 2010 at a Leaders’ Retreat between Lee and then-Malaysian PM Najib Razak, with a bilateral agreement inked in 2018 to implement it.

It had been suspended since 1 April 2019 at Malaysia’s request, with the third and final extension announced in May 2020. It fell behind schedule due to Malaysia’s repeated delays in confirming its joint venture partner.

“We took a pause to work through some changes,” said Ong, who noted that the signing ceremony last July was his first official event as Transport Minister.

According to the Land Transport Authority, Woodlands North Station will be constructed underground at a maximum depth of 28m. There will be three stories, with two basement levels and an underground linkway to the CIQ building. The station and CIQ building are approximately 10 times the size of a typical MRT station.

Ground conditions are expected to be challenging because it is a site of granite condition, said an LTA spokesman. Construction will therefore involve the use of high-capacity drilling machines, extended piling works and rock demolition during the excavation works.

These activities will be carefully managed to minimise impact to the general public and ensure the structural safety of the surrounding infrastructure, added the spokesman.

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