Rapid Transit System ‘Go-Ahead’ to add buzz to prospects of Woodlands

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The Malaysian media said last week that the Malaysian Government will go ahead with the Rapid Transit System. It quoted the Malaysian Transport Minister Anthony Loke as saying that the government had “agreed in principle” to the Rapid Transit System (RTS) project linking Bukit Chagar, Johor Baharu to Woodlands, Singapore. Loke added that detailed information and a working paper about the project is still needed to be brought to the Cabinet for approval.

Loke told reporters on July 30 that once the approval was received from the Cabinet, a joint venture company between Malaysia and Singapore would be set up to ensure smooth implementation of project. Loke added that the Malaysian Government would not have to pay any compensation to its Singapore counterparts despite the delay in the RTS project implementation.

“The initial agreement that both countries signed previously is just a memorandum of understanding, so the issue of compensation does not arise,” he said, adding that the Malaysian officials had already informed their Singapore Government about the delay of between one and two months for the commencement of the project. The delay is to be expected considering the general election and the forming of a new Malaysian government, Loke said.

The Malaysian Transport Minister assured that the Rapid Transit System project will be completed by 2024.

In January 2018, Malaysia’s Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) and Singapore’s Land Transport Authority (LTA) signed the Bilateral Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Singapore and the Government of Malaysia on the Johor Bahru-Singapore Rapid Transit System Link (RTS Link). The project was hailed as an important project that will benefit both countries at the signing ceremony.

The Rapid Transit System Link will have the capacity to carry up to 10,000 passengers per hour per direction, which translates to additional capacity of 60,000 users crossing the Causeway during peak hours.

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. The RTS Link’s capacity of 10,000 passengers per hour per direction (pphpd) is much higher than the average 300 (pphpd) that the Keretapi Tanah Melayu Berhad’s (KTMB) Tebrau Shuttle is ferrying today. The KTMB Tebrau Shuttle services to Singapore will cease six months after the RTS Link passenger service begins, targeted by December 2024.

The announcement that the Rapid Transit System will go ahead as planned by the Malaysian government will give an added impetus to the property developments in the Woodlands area.

Rapid Transit System
Image credit: URA

The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) has already marked the growth of the Woodlands Regional Centre as an anchor development of the North Coast into an innovative corridor buzzing with ideas, creative design and new technologies. The Woodlands Regional Centre is currently well served by the existing Woodlands North-South Line MRT station and Woodlands Bus Interchange, and with the upcoming completion of the new Thomson Line stations at Woodlands and Woodlands North and a planned future Rapid Transit (RTS) Link to Johor, there will be excellent accessibility to the city.

New developments in the area are planned to be highly walkable and well-integrated with the transit hubs to provide greater convenience and accessibility to all. To capitalise on the proximity to the waterfront, the URA plans to extend the existing waterfront park and enhance connectivity to the waterfront via a pair of signature green boulevards and a pedestrian mall that will connect the two districts of Woodlands Central and Woodlands North Coast to the waterfront.

With more than 100ha of available land for development, Woodlands Regional Centre is poised to capitalise on its unique waterfront location and assets to be the Northern Gateway to Singapore. Woodlands Central is envisioned as the retail and mixed use cluster, while Woodlands North Coast will be the business and residential cluster, with 4 unique precincts:

  • Admiralty Park & Waterfront Residential Precincts: Waterfront and garden residences
  • Central Boulevard Mixed Use Precinct: Office and business park uses along signature green boulevards
  • Northshore Innovation Precinct: Business opportunities for SMEs

Not only will there be a pedestrian mall connecting Woodlands Central and Woodlands North Coast, the pedestrian connectivity will be further enhanced by a network of park connectors and cycling paths, which will also connect to the 150km Round Island Route and Rail Corridor.

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Woodlands Regional Centre is the only regional centre to be located near the waterfront. To capitalise on its rich green and blue assets, the existing Woodlands Waterfront will be expanded eastwards, allowing the entire waterfront area to be opened for public enjoyment. Along Admiralty Park and the expanded waterfront park, there will be new, sensitively designed residential developments, providing attractive housing in garden and waterfront settings.

URA said that the Woodlands North Coast is intended as a significant employment cluster, and will provide new offices that will benefit from its proximity to the Thomson Line MRT station. To cater to different business needs, it will house the first business park in the North, in addition to office developments. Land will also be set aside to cater to Small & Medium Enterprises, most of which will benefit from the proximity and convenient access to Malaysia with the future cross-border rail link.

A pair of green boulevards will run through the commercial core of Woodlands North Coast, connecting the future commercial developments and MRT interchange to the waterfront. Commercial streets will be lined with eateries and amenities to serve office workers, residents, and visitors.

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