Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Thomson Line to open from 2019 with 22 stations

SINGAPORE: Singapore's sixth rail network -- the Thomson Line (TSL) -- will open from 2019, instead of the indicative timeline of 2018 announced in the Land Transport Master Plan.

Minister for Transport Lui Tuck Yew, who gave an update on the Thomson Line on Wednesday, said the change in timeline is to accommodate some adjustments made to the original plan.

Under the final rail alignment plan of the Land Transport Authority (LTA), the TSL will be longer and have more stations.

It will be 30 kilometres long -- 3 kilometres longer than envisaged -- and have 22 stations, four more than originally planned.

One of them is Springleaf station, sited in Nee Soon Group Representation Constituency (GRC).

Ms Lee Bee Wah, an MP for the area, said: "(At) Springleaf, most of the residents there are living in private estates, landed properties as well as some condominiums. Currently, the nearest station is Khatib MRT and the complaint is that it is so near and yet so far, because there is no direct bus service. (With the TSL)...we don't need to have direct bus service, there will be a station there."

Another two stations are Woodlands North and Woodlands South in Sembawang GRC.

Ms Ellen Lee, an MP for the area, said: "It (TSL) will facilitate transfer, especially within the estate itself and it will solve the crunch that my residents feel whenever they take the MRT and when they take the buses."

TSL will run from Woodlands in the north to Marina Bay in the south and is expected to be built at an estimated cost of around S$18 billion.

It is expected to have a daily ridership of 400,000 commuters.

Six of the 22 stations will be interchanges, enabling commuters to reach their destinations in the shortest possible time.

For example, a resident of Sin Ming travelling to Republic Polytechnic in Woodlands will halve his or her commute time from 50 minutes to 25 minutes.

Another at Woodlands Regional Centre heading to Marina Barrage will take 55 minutes instead of 70.

With six interchange stations, the TSL will connect to all existing lines and the future Downtown Line (DTL).

"All in, about 160,000 households will be within 10- to 12-minute walk from one of these stations. So you will have an additional option. Instead of having to take a feeder bus or find a way to get to one of the stations on the North-South Line, these 160,000 households can choose to walk to one of the Thomson Line's stations as an alternative," said Mr Lui.

TSL will connect to the North-South Line at Woodlands and Orchard stations.

Caldecott Station will connect to the Circle Line.

Residents of the Bukit Timah stretch can change trains at the future DTL Stevens Station to connect to the TSL.

The Outram Park Station will connect the TSL to the East-West Line and North-East Line, while the Marina Bay Station will connect the TSL to the North-South Line and Circle Line.

TSL will open in three stages from the north to the south.

Phase One, which will have three stations from Woodlands North to Woodlands South, will open in 2019.

Phase Two will be ready in 2020, with stations from Springleaf to Caldecott.

The final stretch of 13 stations from Mount Pleasant to Gardens by the Bay will open in 2021.

When fully operational, an estimated 60,000 households will be within 400 metres of one of the TSL stations.

The line, which will be fully underground, will run on a four-car instead of a three-car system.

Mr Lui said this will give it additional capacity to cope with any increase in long-term demand.

He was speaking during a visit to Telok Ayer Station of Downtown Line One, which will open by the end of next year.

Mr Lui also said: "During the construction phase (of the TSL), there will inevitably be a certain amount of inconvenience, noise pollution. We will try our best to minimise this as much as possible. We will of course want to engage the residents, dialogue with them, find ways to meet as much as possible some of the points that they raise."

LTA, Singapore Land Authority (SLA) and the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) said in a joint statement that while all efforts have been made to minimise land acquisition, the government will acquire four full lots.

They include Pearls Centre in Eu Tong Sen Street, a post office along Upper Thomson Road and two landed properties along Stevens Road and Robin Close.

Pearls Centre will be affected by the construction of the TSL as a tunnel will run under part of the building.

To optimise land use around the future TSL station at Outram Park, Pearls Centre will be acquired and integrated with the adjoining state land for a high-density mixed-use development.

Five other part lots will also be acquired but will not affect the main building structure.

Affected parties will be compensated and the amount will run into a few hundred million dollars, said SLA. The money will come from the S$18b budget to built the line.

The SLA gazetted the land affected by acquisition on Wednesday.

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