Link between Two Cities

Singapore and Malaysia have always had close links historically. Many of us today would have friends and even relatives who are Malaysians, or know of Singaporeans who owns a property (or two) in Johor Bahru, Malaysia.

Come 2024, visiting relatives and friends in Johor Bahru will be a breeze as new train system will link Singapore with our neighbour up North. The new 4km Rapid Transit System (RTS) Link is a cross-border high-volume shuttle service that will enable commuters to travel seamlessly between Singapore and Johor Bahru with great ease.

Essentially, it is akin to having Singapore's Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) train crossing the Johor Strait on a 25m-high bridge, with up to 10,000 passengers an hour travelling in each direction between Johor's Bukit Chagar terminus station, which is situated close to JB Sentral train station, and the Singapore terminus in Woodlands North.

With joint Custom, Immigration and Quarantine (CIQ) facilities co-located at both stations, passengers can clear both Singapore and Malaysia authorities at the point of departure and would not need to go through immigration clearance at the point of arrival. The travel duration across the border is also expected to be shortened to about 30 minutes and congestion at border crossings between Singapore and Malaysia is likely to be reduced. All these are good news to the estimated quarter million commuters who currently make the land journey between Malaysia and Singapore via the two existing links daily.

This convenience will benefit not just Singaporeans staying in Woodlands, but even Singaporeans staying elsewhere on the island as commuters will be able to transfer from the RTS station to the upcoming Thomson-East Coast Line (TEL) via an underground link, without needing to exit the station. The TEL comprises 31 stations starting from Woodlands North all the way to Sungei Bedok in the East, and will be opening in phases from 2019 to 2024.

Construction of the RTS Link is expected to begin in 2019 and the stations will open by the end of 2024. The line will start with five trains, but will eventually have seven trains serving commuters. The frequency of the train will be around one every eight minutes on average during non-peak periods, and one every four minutes on average during peak periods.

The two nations have been planning the RTS link for a long time. It was on 16 January 2018 that Mr Khaw Boon Wan, Singapore's Coordinating Minister for Infrastructure and Minister for Transport, and Mr Abdul Rahman Dahlan, Malaysia's Minister in the Prime Minister's Department finally signed a legally binding bilateral agreement at the Istana to develop the RTS. The signing was witnessed by Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak. This is the second bilateral agreement between both countries in two years, following a deal in 2016 to build a 350km high-speed rail line between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore.

Link between Two Cities

Rail operators SMRT and Prasarana Malaysia will form a joint venture to run the RTS Link for the first concession period of 30 years. Subsequent concessions will be awarded through open tender.

As a savvy investor, you will know that location and its connectivity is key when it comes to purchasing properties, whether local or international. The value of any location is likely to increase as new transportation infrastructure improves its connectivity and reputation as a transportation node. An example would be Park Place Residences at Paya Lebar Quarter by Australian developer Lendlease. Located near the Paya Lebar MRT station which is an interchange station with both the East-West and Circle lines. On the first day of sales, close to half of the total units were sold when the developer had estimated that only 40 per cent would go on day one. When the remaining units go on sale in April, prices are likely to increase by about 5 per cent compared to prices of units similar sold in the first phase. When Stages 2 and 3 of the Downtown Line were announced, the price increases of developments within 500m of the future stations in District 21 and District 7 surpassed the 20.5 per cent average increase in the Outside Central Region non-landed private residential price index.

With the official announcement of the RTS link, Malaysian developer SKS Southern Sdn. Bhd. is seeing strong pick up of enquiries and sales of its award-winning TriTower Residence, a freehold property which is just a two-minute walk away from Bukit Chagar RTS station. Consisting of two residential towers and Capri by Fraser Hotel Residences, TriTower Residence offers an unrivalled lifestyle harnessing elegance and convenience into plush comfort. Its units offer large practical layouts with marble flooring and quality fittings. Besides the CIQ Complex, TriTower is also located near to other facilities such as banks, shopping malls and hospitals. TriTower even has a Sky Bridge on the 39th storey, which offers a panoramic view of the city, as well as a Sky Gym and an Infinity Pool. With the RTS Link ready by 2024, TriTower Residence is definitely a property that will gain the attention of Singaporeans who wish to live in Johor Bahru, Malaysians who commute to Singapore for work, and anyone who is looking for a quality property of good value and with potential for growth in value in future.