Singapore-JB VTL Train cannot run immediately due to Gemas-Johor Bahru Electrified Double-Tracking Project (EDTP) progress and track closure from 23 November 2021 till at least May 2022
The KTM Shuttle Tebrau (or Singapore-Malaysia VTL Train) is not able to operate from 23 November 2021 till at least May 2022 with the progress of the Gemas-Johor Bahru Electrified Double-Tracking Project (EDTP) between JB Sentral and Kempas Baru.
KTM train services are currently suspended between JB Sentral and Kempas Baru since 23 November 2021. This will last for at least 6 months until at least May 2022 with the progress of the Gemas-Johor Bahru Electrified Double-Tracking Project (EDTP).
The Shuttle Tebrau and all other KTM Intercity passenger rolling stock are stabled at Kempas Baru Depot. As such, the Shuttle Tebrau (or Singapore-Malaysia VTL Train) cannot travel down to JB Sentral or Woodlands Train Checkpoint as there are no railway tracks between between JB Sentral and Kempas Baru during this period.
Therefore, a Singapore-Malaysia VTL Train is not possible during this track closure period as the Shuttle Tebrau and all other KTM Intercity passenger rolling stock are stabled at Kempas Baru Depot, and cannot travel down to JB Sentral or Woodlands Train Checkpoint.
Singapore Looking At Singapore-Malaysia VTL Train
Singapore’s Minister for Trade and Industry Gan Kim Yong said on Wednesday, 24 November 2021 that “Whereas the next step is probably looking at the possibility of allowing the train between Singapore and Malaysia to also tap on this VTL land access, so that Singaporeans and Malaysians can then also make use of (the) train to travel. But both bus and train are more manageable because they have a fixed capacity.”. Source: CNA
He also adds that “The immediate focus is really on bus, the next step maybe on the train between the two places.” Source: CNA
Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his Malaysian counterpart Ismail Sabri Yaakob had a joint statement made at a press conference held at the Istana on 29 November 2021. Malaysia Prime Minister Dato’ Sri Ismail Sabri Yaakob also mentioned during the press conference that there is an intention “to expand VTL lane to include additional … trains operated by Keretapi Tanah Melayu or KTM …”.
Very importantly, this may not mean that Minister Gan Kim Yong and Dato’ Sri Ismail Sabri Yaakob are wrong in their statement on a potential Singapore-Malaysia VTL Train.
Here’s what I think might happen.
“The immediate focus is really on bus” could mean that more VTL bus trips on Causeway Link VTL1 Bus and Transtar Travel VTL Bus may be added, or even more new VTL bus routes may be added during this first phase of the Singapore-Malaysia Vaccinated Travel Lane-Land (VTL-Land) which may thus last for 6 months ie. from now till May 2022.
This idea is further supported with the quote “We are starting with the buses because as you can imagine, buses are easier to manage, the capacity is more manageable, and there’s a booking system for the buses and therefore, we can actually decide how many people will be allowed to come across based on the number of buses”. Source: CNA
After the Gemas-Johor Bahru Electrified Double-Tracking Project (EDTP) works are done between between JB Sentral and Kempas Baru in May 2022, then the next phase of a Singapore-Malaysia VTL Train via the Shuttle Tebrau could start in June 2022.
This seems to be quite a logical timeline based on safely reopening borders to “continue to monitor the infection situation – that both countries remain stable – then there will be more scope for us to progressively open the travel lane for more people to travel and also to include non-citizens, non-PR and non long-term pass holders so that more people from different profiles can also travel, taking advantage of this travel lane.”. Source: CNA
The above is just my brief analysis of timelines and the CNA news article on a Singapore-Malaysia VTL Train, and in no way a form of affirmation on any Singapore-Malaysia VTL-Land procedures coming up.