Singapore

SMRT, Prasarana sign MOU to form firm for rail link

Rail operators SMRT and Prasarana Malaysia signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) yesterday to form a joint venture company to finance, build and operate the Johor Baru-Singapore rail link that will be ready seven years from now.

The signing ceremony for the Rail Transport System (RTS) Link paves the way for both sides to work on a joint venture agreement and incorporation of a joint venture company that will operate the line, the companies said.

The JB-Singapore RTS Link Operating Company, or OpCo, is expected to "design, build, finance, operate, maintain and renew the RTS Link operating assets like trains, tracks and systems", SMRT said in a statement.

It will be able to carry up to 10,000 passengers an hour between Johor's Bukit Chagar terminus station and the Singapore terminus in Woodlands North, where it will join the upcoming Thomson-East Coast Line.

The MOU was signed by SMRT president and group chief executive officer Desmond Kuek and Prasarana president and group CEO Azmi Abdul Aziz. Commuters can travel from Woodlands to Johor Baru using the RTS Link by Dec 31, 2024.

Officials yesterday said construction is expected to begin in 2019, with Prasarana's financing likely to come from the government's guarantee for the company to go to the market to raise funds.

Malaysia's Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Abdul Rahman Dahlan, who is overseeing the project, said costs will be known only when the alignment is determined.

Asked about the joint venture company, he said it is unlikely the structure would be equally split, as one party would have to be a slight majority to prevent a deadlock when making decisions.

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