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Speech by Minister for Transport, Mr Ong Ye Kung, at the Groundbreaking Event for Rapid Transit System (RTS) Link

22 Jan 2021 Speeches

Friends and colleagues 
 
1.     Thank you for joining me for today’s groundbreaking ceremony for the RTS Link infrastructure works in Singapore.   
 
An Important Bilateral Project 
 
2.     At the Leaders’ Retreat in 2010, the Prime Ministers of Singapore and Malaysia agreed to jointly develop an RTS Link to connect Singapore and Johor Bahru. Both countries share common goals: to improve connectivity, deepen people-to-people ties, and stimulate economic growth in Singapore and Malaysia. After several years of discussions and joint studies, our two countries signed a Bilateral Agreement in 2018, to implement the RTS Link Project.  
 
3.     We took a pause to work through some changes, and July last year marked the resumption of the project through a joint ceremony at the Causeway.  
 
4.     It was quite a unique ceremony, partly because that was the first event I have ever attended as Minister for Transport. More importantly, despite COVID-19 travelling restrictions, PM Lee Hsien Loong and PM Muhyiddin personally attended the ceremony. They stood on their respective sides of the Causeway to commemorate the occasion and underscore the importance of this bilateral project.  
 
5.     It was a significant milestone in strengthening and enhancing the connectivity of our peoples, and the relations of the two countries.  
 
6.     Since then, Malaysia has broken ground for the construction of the RTS Link at the site of the future Bukit Chagar station in Johor Bahru. Today, we are having a similar ceremony at the site of the RTS Link Woodlands North Station, to mark the commencement of the RTS Link infrastructure works in Singapore.  
 
7.     I am glad to see both countries taking “concrete action” on the project and I am confident that we will work hard together to deliver the project on time, scheduled to be by end 2026. When the RTS Link is up and running, we will have an additional land linkage between Singapore and Malaysia.  
 
Key Features of RTS Link Project
 
8.     While the RTS Link is a short service – two stations, four kilometres long – its economic and social benefits are very significant.  
 
9.     It was not that long ago when the Causeway was one of the busiest land border crossings in the world, with close to 300,000 commuters crossing it daily to and fro. The Causeway may be empty today, but COVID-19 will pass, travel restrictions will be lifted, and the commuters will return.  
 
10.    The RTS Link will offer an alternative that is attractive in terms of cost and time for cross-border travel and promises to be a game-changer in easing congestion at the Causeway. With a capacity of up to 10,000 commuters per hour per direction, the RTS Link can potentially shift thousands of motorcycles and cars off the Causeway, while providing a faster and more comfortable commute.  
 
11.    For added convenience to commuters, the Customs, Immigration and Quarantine (CIQ) facilities of Singapore and Malaysia will be co-located for one stop clearance, at Woodlands North and Bukit Chagar. What this means is that when we use the RTS Link, we can clear both countries’ immigration at one go at the point of departure. And when we arrive, there is no need to clear immigration again. 
 
12.    The RTS Link stations will also be integrated with the local transport networks.  On Singapore’s end, the RTS Link station is right beside the Woodlands North station of the Thomson-East Coast Line (TEL). As more phases and stations of the TEL open in the coming few years, this part of Singapore will be connected by MRT directly to the city centre and many other parts of the island. By then, getting to the RTS Link station will also be smooth and easy. Eventually, there will be a transport hub connected to the RTS Link and TEL stations.  
 
Woodlands Regional Centre
 
13.    TEL, the RTS Link station and the transport hub are just some of the key transport developments here. LTA is also developing the upcoming North-South Corridor, which will provide an efficient connection between Woodlands and Sembawang towns to the city centre and their surrounding developments.  
 
14.    Taken together, these transport connections will support and enhance the larger development plans to transform Woodlands into a key growth hub and thriving employment gateway for the Northern Region of Singapore, just like Jurong and Tampines. The Woodlands Regional Centre, comprising the two key precincts of Woodlands Central and Woodlands North Coast, will have 700,000 square metres of new commercial space and more than 100 hectares of land for development. It will seamlessly integrate a diverse mix of residential, offices, manufacturing, retail and recreational uses, including an improved waterfront park.  
 
15.    In the Woodlands North Coast precinct where we are today, JTC is spearheading several industrial developments. The first two – 1 and 7 North Coast – will be completed later this year, and will offer close to 90,000 square metres of manufacturing spaces, complete with shared business facilities and eateries. The Woodlands Regional Centre will also serve as a strategic centre for the Agri-Tech and Food Corridor spanning across the Northern part of Singapore. The Northern part of Singapore becomes the focus of our food and agriculture sector. From the local farms in Lim Chu Kang, to the Agri-Food Innovation Park in Sungei Kadut Eco-District, to the food-related industries in Senoko Food Zone.
 
16.    In the coming years, Woodlands will be revamped, revitalised and rejuvenated. There will be a new buzz here.  And the RTS Link when operational will serve as a key gateway to all these exciting developments.
 
Conclusion 
 
17.    Since its genesis, the RTS Link has been envisaged as an infrastructure project that will benefit many generations of Singaporeans and Malaysians. 
 
18.    It is important that even at the height of the COVID-19 crisis where many aspects of life come to a standstill, we continue to invest in our future, and hold strongly to the belief that the pandemic will pass and we will all bounce back stronger and better.  
 
19.    I am very happy to declare the start of the infrastructure works for the RTS Link Project at Woodlands, and look forward to using it in 2026. Thank you.