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Train journeys a ‘possibility’ under Singapore-Malaysia VTL, ‘some time’ before private vehicles allowed: Gan Kim Yong

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SINGAPORE: It will take “some time” before private vehicles are allowed to cross between Singapore and Malaysia, with train journeys a “possibility” as part of the land vaccinated travel lane (VTL), said Singapore’s Minister for Trade and Industry Gan Kim Yong on Wednesday (Nov 24).

Speaking to reporters after the announcement of the Singapore-Malaysia land VTL, Mr Gan said that the next step of the VTL could involve allowing train journeys between both countries.

As part of the first phase of the land VTL, which starts on Nov 29, travellers will need to use designated bus services. Travellers have to be citizens, permanent residents or long-term pass holders of the country they are entering.

There will be 32 land VTL designated bus services entering each country per day, with a maximum capacity of 45 “fully seated” passengers per trip. That means the daily quota for the land VTL scheme will be about 2,900 travellers in total, with 1,440 passengers each way.

“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,” he said.

“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.”

Mr Gan added that it would “take some time” before private vehicles are allowed to travel between both countries.

“If we were to do that, there would also be some form of a booking system or registration system so we know how many people are going across every day. So, I think the system has to be put in place,” he said.

“The immediate focus is really on bus, the next step maybe on the train between the two places.”

Mr Gan said he has spoken to Malaysia’s Senior Minister for International Trade and Industry Mohamed Azmin Ali.

QUOTA TO BE REVIEWED WEEKLY

Mr Gan also noted that the daily land VTL quota on the number of travellers will be reviewed weekly by both Singapore and Malaysia to see if there is scope for an increase in capacity.

“We also discussed that it is not probably possible for us to revert back to the pre-pandemic situation where we had maybe more than 100,000 people travelling across the Causeway every day,” added Mr Gan.

“So, I think it will take some time before we are able to reach that status.

“In the immediate future, the idea is 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.”

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