The new starting date for the line was announced in a joint statement yesterday after the 13th meeting of the Malaysia-Singapore Joint Ministerial Committee for Iskandar Malaysia, co-chaired by Malaysia's Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Abdul Rahman Dahlan and Coordinating Minister for Infrastructure Khaw Boon Wan, who is also Transport Minister.
The daily shuttle train service from Woodlands to Johor Baru will stop operating within six months after the RTS Link opens. It has been running 26 daily trips since June 1 to cope with higher demand, and Mr Khaw said the frequency will go up to 36 trips in the next few years.
He noted that the Woodlands Checkpoint can be redeveloped after the shuttle service ends and land is freed up. "Then, hopefully, this problem of the Causeway jam can be significantly mitigated or even eliminated," he added.
Singapore has invited SMRT Corp to be part of the joint venture, while Malaysia has asked Prasarana Malaysia, whose subsidiary runs an MRT line through the Klang Valley in Kuala Lumpur. Both operators are negotiating terms for the joint venture, which will have a first concession period of 30 years.
Each government will also appoint an infrastructure company to fund, build, own, maintain and upgrade the civil infrastructure and stations in their own countries.
When asked, Mr Khaw reiterated that fares will not be regulated but driven by market forces.
In 2015, Malaysia chose Bukit Chagar as the main terminal station for the 4km line, which will use the same rail systems and rolling stock as the 31-station TEL. The TEL will open in phases from 2019 to 2024. Trains will ply between both terminus stations via a 25m-high bridge across the Strait of Johor.
National Development Minister Lawrence Wong said agencies have been doing detailed masterplans for Jurong and Woodlands - the respective sites for the HSR and RTS stations here. "Both these centres will become commercial centres for businesses because they have good connectivity. They will be ideal for businesses with Asia, Asean and Malaysian linkages."