MRT network size to double by 2030
SINGAPORE’S train network is set to double in size over the next 17 years, with two new lines and three extensions announced yesterday.
The slew of new projects means 80 per cent of households will be no more than 10 minutes’ walk from a station by 2030, said Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew.
They come on top of half a dozen others that are already in various stages of planning and construction.
The new projects will boost the size of the network to about 360km – the current size is 178km – and increase the proportion of households within a 10-minute walk of a station from the current 57 per cent. They are:
Cross Island Line, a 50km train line running from Changi in the east to Jurong industrial estate in the west.
In between, it will link towns and districts such as West Coast, Clementi, Bukit Timah, Sin Ming, Ang Mo Kio, Hougang and Pasir Ris. From Pasir Ris, it will have an offshoot that goes to Punggol – forming the first rail link between the two northern estates.
Jurong Region Line, a 20km H-shaped network targeted for completion by 2025.
It will link Choa Chu Kang, Tengah, Jurong East, West Coast, Boon Lay and Jurong West to the North-South and East-West lines. It is expected to have a stop at the Nanyang Technological University.
A 4km extension that will join the two southern ends of the orbital Circle Line, making it a complete circle by 2025.
A 2km extension of the North-East Line north of Punggol, to serve the future “new Punggol downtown” by 2030.
A 2km extension to link Downtown Line 3 to the future Eastern Region Line. When it is completed by 2025, commuters will be able to travel from Singapore Expo to Marine Parade in less than 10 minutes.
Planners are also considering building a new station on the North-South Line between Yishun and Sembawang stations to serve future mixed developments there. Speaking during a visit to Downtown Line 1’s Chinatown station yesterday, Mr Lui said the denser network will not only give commuters better connectivity but will also create “a more resilient network that can better mitigate disruptions”.
This means that if there is an incident on one line, commuters can switch to another fairly easily to continue their journey.
The minister said it will also allow parts of the network to be closed for extended periods for improvement works.
Asked if the timing of his announcement was in any way linked to the Punggol by-election, he said: “No, no, we’ve been planning to announce these for some time now. In any case, the new lines are not quite at the Punggol East SMC (single-member constituency). They will benefit everybody in Singapore.”
Although no details of the cost were available as engineering studies have not started, observers estimate that the cost of the new lines – totalling 78km in length – could come to between $70 billion and $100 billion.
Government Parliamentary Committee for Transport chairman Cedric Foo said: “Some commuters will say that the completion date is not ambitious enough.
“But in adding some 180km of rail, there are many second-order effects that the Government needs to balance against. Some of which are disruptions, more foreign workers, the capacity of contractors and sub-contractors, demand for materials” and so on.
Mr Lui said the expanded network “will have more than the capacity needed to meet the expected increase in public transport ridership in the next two decades”.
He added: “On the other hand, our response cannot always be to build more lines… we need to find other options, such as a more aggressive decentralisation strategy so that there is a better geographical balance of jobs and people.”
He was referring to a plan spelt out as early as the 1980s to create regional centres such as Tampines and Jurong East to bring jobs closer to where people lived. One benefit is shorter, fewer commutes.
(c) 2013 Singapore Press Holdings Limited
Please visit Wild Singapore News for more related articles. Siva from the Habitatnews has also analysed how the proposed Cross Island line will cut through Central Catchment Forest Reserve, and some primary and very good secondary forest.