Singapore and Malaysia have agreed to suspend the construction of a billion-dollar train project to link the city-state to the southern Malaysian state of Johor, according to a report in the Bangkok Post.
The official announcement of the suspension marks a delay in yet another project since the new Malaysian government came into power last year.
For now, the delay will last until September 30, and Malaysia will compensate Singapore for the abortive costs involved.
“If by September 30, 2019, Malaysia does not proceed with the Rapid Transit System (RTS) Link Project, Malaysia will also bear the agreed costs incurred by Singapore”, said Khaw Boon Wan and Anthony Loke, the ministers of transport for Singapore and Malaysia respectively, in a joint statement.
Originally slated for completion by 2026, the RTS Link Project was planned to carry up to 10,000 passengers each hour per direction — that’s more than 30 times more than the existing train service available between the two countries.
In a joint statement, both ministers said they recognised the “urgent need to alleviate traffic congestion at the Johor Bahru-Singapore Causeway”, which facilitates about 300,000 crossings daily.
Loke emphasised that the suspension does not mean that the project is being terminated. Instead, a re-evaluation needs to be performed so that the project can proceed more effectively.
This is the second rail-related project to be suspended in recent years. In 2018, the high-speed rail project between Singapore and Malaysia’s capital, Kuala Lumpur, was suspended till end-May 2020. That particular project had an estimated price tag of around US$17 billion.