Proposed rail link design would disturb city skyline: Sultan of Johor

The proposed design of the Rapid Transit System (RTS) rail track connecting Singapore and Johor Baru in Malaysia has earned the ire of the Sultan of Johor as he has expressed reservations about the issue.

A view of the Johor Baru causeway connecting Singapore and Malaysia.
A view of the Johor Baru causeway connecting Singapore and Malaysia. Photo courtesy: Wikipedia

Talking to a Singapore-based media group New Straits Times, Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar said that while he welcomed the project he disagreed with the overall curve-shaped design of the track as well the plan to build an elevated bridge as high as 30m above water in the middle section.

He told the newspaper that the bridge, linking Woodlands in Singapore and Bukit Chagar in Johor Baru, would disrupt the city skyline along the Johor Straits.

The Sultan said, “We are talking about a permanent fixture here. Go back to the drawing board and review the overall plan.”

He also said that the parties involved would have to consult him – “Whatever (new plan) is presented to me, it will have to be logical, economical and sustainable for the benefit of not only Johoreans but all Malaysians and Singaporeans.”

According to the NST, “Sultan Ibrahim criticised both the proposed curved design of the rail link and the elevated bridge as impractical, unsustainable and potentially costly.”

The Sultan questioned, “Why do we have to have a curved design when we can have a more practical design that is straighter and closer to the Causeway? Why do they need an elevated bridge with up to 30m air draft (clearance height from water to a vessel's height) unless there are plans to remove the Causeway?”

He suggested that the new design could be the same height as the Causeway or be slightly elevated.

The Sultan also apprised that he would bring up his concerns over the design in a meeting with Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong next month, before bringing up points from the meeting with the Malaysian government and the media.

The RTS Link was first announced in 2010, and is expected to begin passenger service by the end of December 2024. Singapore has confirmed that its RTS terminus will be located at Woodlands North station, along the Thomson-East Coast MRT line, while Malaysia has chosen Bukit Chagar as its main terminal for the RTS.

When the link will be ready, it will be able to carry up to 10,000 passengers in each direction every hour providing much relief to the people commuting between Singapore and Malaysia daily.