Peter Kenyon, TunnelTalk
Tunnel being considered for Johor Strait
- An undersea crossing of the Johor Strait between Malaysia and the city-state of Singapore is a step closer to becoming reality after the governments of both countries jointly hired engineering and design consultants to complete a study of all the options.
- A consortium of AECOM Singapore, AECOM Perunding and SA Architects of Singapore is awarded a US$42 million contract by Malaysia's Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) and Singapore's Land Transport Authority (LTA) to carry out an engineering study of the proposed Malaysia-Singapore Rapid Transit System (RTS) link.
- A statement by the Singapore Government said the study will determine the technical parameters of a cost-effective system that is well-integrated with public transport services on both sides. The study consists of two phases. Phase 1, expected to be completed by the end of 2012, will propose options for the link towards deciding which of these will be selected by the Joint Ministerial Committee for theRegional Development Authority for further study in Phase 2.
- The rail link across the 1km-wide Johor Strait is part of a wider plan for a high-speed rail connection between Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia), and Singapore. SPAD is due to award a contract for a more detailed alignment and engineering study of this wider-reaching project in the coming weeks.
- Relations between Malaysia and Singapore have traditionally been strained ever since Singapore's independence in 1965, but a landmark land-swap deal and an easing of tensions over the cost of water supplied from Malaysia to Singapore have paved the way for a series of prime ministerial summits that have ultimately led to an agreement in principle to jointly fund the crossing and complete a Rapid Transit System.
Engineering study will look at new crossing options in addition to the Causeway (top) and Tuas Bridge (bottom)
- Iskandar Malaysia, which will decide on the crossing option to be further studied in Phase 2, says the study that has been commissioned will consider all available link options "both elevated and underground".
- Chief Executive Ismail Ibrahim said: "The final outcome of what kind of link will be built will all depend on the recommendation of the study for the consideration of the two governments involved."
- Even if the final recommendation is that the Johor Strait rail crossing be above ground, there is the possibility that an underground road link will be built. In January this year Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Ser Najib Tun Razak told reporters at a news conference: "We have also agreed to expand the study to include the possibility of an underground road connection between the two countries."
- There are currently two crossings of the Johor Strait - the Johor-Singapore Causeway and a twin-deck six-carriageway 1.92km bridge that was opened in 1998 to ease congestion further.
- According to the LTA the terminating stations of the RTS link, which is targeted to be in operation by 2018, will be in the vicinity of JB Sentral, Johor Bahru and in the vicinity of Republic Polytechnic, Singapore. The RTS link is planned to integrate with Singapore's Thomson Line at its northernmost terminal station.
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