Malaysia’s MRT Corp and Hong Kong’s MTR Corporation unveil plan for transit-oriented development project next to RTS Link in Johor Bahru

A memorandum of understanding (MOU) has been signed between Malaysia’s Mass Rapid Transit Corporation Sdn Bhd (MRT Corp) and Hong Kong’s MTR Corporation Limited to develop a transit-oriented development (TOD) project at Bukit Chagar RTS station in Johor Bahru, Malaysia.

The RTS (Rapid Transit System) Link is a new 4-km rail service connecting Johor Bahru and Singapore, expected to be completed by the end of 2026. The Malaysian Immigration, Customs and Quarantine (ICQ) facility is located at the Bukit Chagar station, while the Customs, Immigration and Quarantine (CIQ) facility in Singapore is at the Woodlands North station.

MRT Corp, which is currently constructing the Malaysian section of the RTS Link, plans to carry out the TOD project on the land adjacent to the Bukit Chagar station and ICQ building, said MTR Corporation. The development will integrate the railway, residential and commercial elements.

According to MTR Corporation, the areas of collaboration with MRT Corp will include technical design and construction planning for the integration and interface with RTS rail infrastructure and the ICQ complex, long-term planning for the surrounding areas, exploration of the development mix and scale, formulation of sales and marketing strategies as well as financial modelling, investment and partnership model, among others. The two parties will set up working groups to further discuss the collaboration details in these areas.

MRT Corp said that the new mixed-use development will occupy 6 acres of land, with about 3 mil sq ft of gross floor area. The project is aimed to transform Bukit Chagar into an economic hub in Johor Bahru, capitalising on cross-border economies.

Through this partnership, both parties aspire to build lively communities by providing a range of amenities such as hospitality offerings, healthcare and wellness services, shared MRT Corp. When completed, the TOD will be fully integrated and seamlessly linked with the ICQ complex and Bukit Chagar RTS station, which directly connects Johor Bahru and Woodlands North station in Singapore.

MRT Corp added that the TOD will also connect to existing transport systems in Johor Bahru, including the KTM ETS, city buses and the future Bus Rail Transit (BRT).

“We are going to place heavy emphasis on content that capitalises on the cross-border economies. There will be ample opportunities for various types of investors, local or international alike. It is envisaged that the Bukit Chagar regeneration will redefine urban living, integrating hardware, software and mobility from the very onset of the RTS Link project,” said Datuk Mohd Zarif Hashim, CEO of MRT Corp.

“MTR Corporation has been making good use of the ‘Rail plus Property’ model to support railway operations and the development of Hong Kong. The corporation utilises the profits that our property developments bring in to support the operations and long-term maintenance of railway, as well as to finance new railway projects,” explained David Tang, property and international business director at MTR Corporation.

“The model also enables the corporation to build many sustainable and lively communities by integrating railway, residential and commercial elements. This MOU marks the beginning of a relationship that will see the exchange of technical know-how and experience in important areas of implementing TOD projects along the railway. We look forward to cooperating with MRT Corp to develop cities along the railway for their citizens with our expertise in building new communities under the ‘Rail plus Property’ model and providing seamless experience of railway and property.”

All images: MTR Corporation