Channel NewsAsia
Updated: 08/15/2014 14:02 | By Channel NewsAsia

Thomson-East Coast Line, connecting North and East, ready by 2024

Thomson-East Coast Line, connecting North and East, ready by 2024


Thomson-East Coast Line, connecting North and East, ready by 2024

SINGAPORE: The country's sixth rail line - the Thomson-East Coast Line (TEL) - will be fully operational by 2024, the Land Transport Authority announced on Friday (Aug 15).

The previously-announced Eastern Region Line and the Thomson Line will be joined to form the single, continuous line, which will span about 43 kilometres with a total of 31 stations, seven of which will be interchanges.

Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew, speaking at a visit to the soon-to-open Marina South Pier Station on Friday, said that when fully operational in 2024, the TEL will serve about 500,000 commuters daily. This could rise to 1 million passengers daily in the longer term.

The East Coast part of the TEL is budgeted to cost $6.8 billion, bringing the total cost of the TEL to about $24 billion. The Land Transport Authority will also build Singapore's first underground bicycle parks at MRT stations. They will be located at Marine Parade, Marine Terrace, Bayshore, and Sungei Bedok stations.

FROM THE NORTH TO THE EAST

The line will provide direct connectivity for commuters in the north and the east of Singapore - starting at Woodlands and heading south through the Central Business District, then turning east at Gardens by the Bay station and travelling along a East Coast stretch that will be fully underground.

One of the nine stations on this stretch will serve as an interchange with Downtown Line 3 Extension (DTL3e) - a 2.2km line consisting of two stations, meant to improve accessibility to the Changi Business Park and Expo areas.

The East Coast stretch will also cover areas not currently served by the rail network such as Siglap, Marine Parade, Upper East Coast and Bedok South. Seven of the stations, from Tanjong Rhu to Bayshore, will be ready by 2023, while remainder of the line, as well as the DTL3e, will be completed the year after.

Also scheduled for completion in 2024 is a new 36-hectare depot, touted by the LTA as "the world's first four-in-one train and bus depot". The new structure, which is the size of about 60 football fields, will be able to house a total of 220 trains for the TEL, DTL and East West Line, as well as 550 buses.

"Making the elevated train depot is a very hard thing to do, because trains are very, very heavy. So, this is typically not done in many parts of the world, where there is more supply of land. So, this will be a challenge," said Dr Park Byung Joon, Head of the Urban Transport Management at the Singapore Institute of Management (SIM). 

Construction of the East Coast stretch is expected to start in 2016. To build the line, the Government will need to acquire six landed properties along Amber Road and one three-storey apartment along Tanjong Katong Road, as well as nine part lots elsewhere. The Singapore Land Authority on Friday gazetted the properties affected by acquisition, and said it would work closely with landowners throughout the process.

CONVENIENCE A CONSIDERATION

The LTA said that with the TEL, someone going from the East Coast to Orchard MRT station will have his travel time cut by half an hour, from 75 minutes to 45 minutes. A Republic Polytechnic student will be able to travel to Marine Parade in an hour, 20 minutes faster than the current bus ride would take.

Also, stations along the TEL will see longer underpasses of up to 400m long, as part of efforts to improve "first and last mile connectivity", particularly for the elderly and children, the LTA said.

However, the Thomson-East Coast Line comes with some challenges, said the Transport Minister. "The corridors along Tanjong Rhu and Marine Parade areas are very tight, and this is made more difficult by the extensive network of utilities structures and services that are in the area. Significant sewage and canal diversions, as well as complex road works, will be required for the construction," Mr Lui said.

- CNA/es

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