The Straits Times | April 13, 2013
The Land Transport Authority (LTA) has awarded a $34.2 million contract for an architectural and engineering study for a new MRT link between Singapore and Johor Bahru.
It is believed to be among the costliest studies it has awarded so far.
The contract was awarded to a consortium led by infrastructural specialists Aecom, and includes Malaysian architectural firm SA Architects.
The amount does not include what the Malaysian government is co-funding. In total, the undertaking costs US$42 million (S$52 million), according to New York-listed Aecom's website.
The study is expected to take up to the first half of next year to complete.
Industry watchers expect it to include a comprehensive list of cost-and-benefit ratios of the various options for the rare cross-border mass transit link.
Choices will include an undersea tunnel and a viaduct.
Leading engineering companies said the price is right, although The Straits Times understands there was at least one bid that was significantly lower.
Experts said the study includes thorough investigations into soil conditions and water currents, and will also factor in a calculation of political risks, as two governments are involved.
The link will have a common immigration checkpoint and two stations: one interchanging with the Thomson Line's Republic Polytechnic station, and the other at JB Sentral, interchanging with the KTM rail line. The latter, industry players said, poses unique challenges as the KTM infrastructure is old and vastly different from that of the MRT system.
Other posers include which side will provide electricity to run the line, and what happens if there is a breakdown once a train has crossed the border.
However, the industry was unclear on why Singapore is footing two-thirds of the cost.
The LTA would not say more about the study, and Aecom was unreachable for comment.
The link is targeted to be completed by 2018.
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