Malaysia's Najib criticizes Singapore ties under Mahathir

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The accord on the Johor Bahru - Singapore Rapid Transit System Link (RTS Link) was reached following the conclusion of negotiations led by Singapore's Ministry of Transport and Land Transport Authority (LTA) and Malaysia's Land Public Transport Commission (Spad).

The meeting is expected to go on for 45 minutes, followed by a delegation meeting that will last about one hour between the two leaders, Malaysian and Singaporean ministers, and senior officials from both countries.

Singapore was part of Malaysia after the end of British colonial rule but they separated acrimoniously in 1965, clouding diplomatic and economic dealings for decades.

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Each country is to appoint an infrastructure company to fund, build, own, maintain and renew the civil works and stations within its territory. The project's original goal was to have the link operational by 2018. "However, we believe they will decide on an agenda that is beneficial to the country", said Najib in a joint press conference with his Singapore counterpart Lee Hsien Loong after the 8th Malaysia-Singapore Leaders' Retreat. To facilitate passenger flow, it will have co-located customs, immigration and quarantine facilities. The KTMB Tebrau Shuttle services to Singapore will cease operation six months after the RTS Link starts operating, which has been targeted to begin by December 2024.

The OpCo concession agreement is due to be signed by the end of September.

Apart from the RTS Link, Malaysia and Singapore are also planning the construction of a high-speed rail track connecting Kuala Lumpur with the city-state.

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To benefit from economies of scale, the RTS Link is to utilise the same rolling stock, signalling, communication and control technologies as the Thomson-East Coast Line which is now under construction in Singapore and will have its northern terminus at Woodlands North.

LTA says the RTS Link will adopt standards for rolling stock, signalling communications and integrated control from Singapore's Thomson East Coast Line (TEL), which will interchange with the RTS Link at Woodlands North. "Heavy maintenance will be outsourced to the TEL Operator - SMRT Trains - at the TEL's Mandai Depot, though there will also be a light maintenance facility at Bukit Chagar", it added.

"We certainly don't want to return to the era of confrontational diplomacy and barb rhetoric between the two countries", said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak in referring to Malaysia-Singapore relations.

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The agreement covers technical, safety and security requirements; the commercial, financing, procurement and regulatory frameworks; and the border arrangements.

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