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Hume MRT Station to open by 2025, no stations for Tuas South and Jurong Island

SINGAPORE — The Hume MRT Station will be opened by 2025 because new developments in Upper Bukit Timah and the Hume Avenue area now justify “sufficient ridership” for it, said Dr Janil Puthucheary, Senior Minister of State for Transport.

While Hume MRT Station along Downtown Line will be opened in 2025, Tuas South and Jurong Island will not get MRT stations.

While Hume MRT Station along Downtown Line will be opened in 2025, Tuas South and Jurong Island will not get MRT stations.

SINGAPORE — The Hume MRT Station will be opened by 2025 because new developments in Upper Bukit Timah and the Hume Avenue area now justify “sufficient ridership” for it, said Dr Janil Puthucheary, Senior Minister of State for Transport.

The move comes after residents living in nearby condominiums called on the Government to open the station, which is located between the Beauty World and Hillview stations along Downtown Line. They had been doing so for more than three years. 

Dr Puthucheary said that the “shell station” at Hume was built during the second phase of the Downtown Line, which opened in 2015, and the pace of developments and ridership growth in the area did not warrant its opening at the time. He was speaking at the parliamentary debate on the budget of the Ministry of Transport (MOT).

He also mentioned that the ministry is now studying other rail projects beyond 2030, which is when Singapore's eighth MRT line, the Cross Island Line, is due to be completed. Those other projects would be announced when the Land Transport Master Plan is launched in a few months’ time.

In the meantime, the districts of Tuas South and Jurong Island will not get MRT stations, Dr Puthucheary added.

On the opening of Hume station, he pointed out that the new non-residential developments include the development of the Rail Corridor and the upcoming transformation of the defunct Bukit Timah Fire Station into a “gateway node” for the surrounding nature and heritage attractions.

Mr Desmond Lee, Second Minister for National Development, announced on Wednesday that the former fire station would serve as the base for visitors to explore Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, Dairy Farm Nature Park and the former Ford Factory.

Dr Puthucheary was responding to an appeal from Ms Low Yen Ling, Member of Parliament for the Chua Chu Kang Group Representation Constituency, to consider opening Hume station. She said that the lack of an MRT station had inconvenienced residents living around there. Those heading to the city centre via Beauty World MRT Station were often subjected to an extended wait, because most buses plying Upper Bukit Timah Road were full by the time they reached Bukit Gombak.

Not opening the Hume station, Ms Low said, “effectively leaves residents out” of the masterplan, which aims to build “20-minute towns” where journeys to the nearest neighbourhood centre can be completed in 20 minutes. The plan also includes a “45-minute city” goal, where nine in 10 peak-hour journeys can be completed in 45 minutes by 2040.

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The masterplan was the result of a set of recommendations made by an advisory panel. Acting Transport Minister Vivian Balakrishnan said on Thursday that the Government had accepted the recommendations.

As part of the masterplan, Dr Puthucheary said that the Government will take the lead in building a cleaner transport system and that all public buses will be upgraded to use cleaner energy sources by 2040. “Key industry players” in the point-to-point sector, such as taxi firms and some private-hire car-booking providers and car-rental companies, have committed to having their fleets run on cleaner energy by the same timeframe.

NO STATIONS FOR TUAS SOUTH, JURONG ISLAND

While acknowledging that rail “must continue to be the backbone” of Singapore’s public transport network, Dr Puthucheary said that it is still important for MOT to “continue to exercise financial prudence” in view of the developments.

“In deciding which areas to extend our rail network to, we will have to balance between managing costs and benefiting the most number of Singaporeans possible, while taking into account the characteristics of each area,” he told the House.

He also rejected a call by Nominated Member of Parliament Arasu Duraisamy to build a new MRT line to serve Tuas South and connect the mainland to Jurong Island.

Mr Arasu pointed out that several businesses operating in Tuas South — including companies dealing in biomedical parts, ship-building, electronic, logistics and petrochemicals — would benefit from an MRT station. New businesses will also spring up with the opening of the Tuas megaport, which is targeted for completion by 2040, he added.

The area’s nearest MRT station is Tuas West station, which is 12km to 13km away, noted the general secretary of the Singapore Port Workers’ Union.

“These are mainly companies with decent pay, decent work environment, and some even utilising state-of-the-art technologies. These are good jobs, jobs we want Singaporeans to be gainfully employed in. The challenge is, ‘How do we attract Singaporeans to go there to work?’” Mr Arasu asked.

However, Dr Puthucheary said that the Tuas South area is still “in the initial stages of development” and that there is not enough ridership in the near to medium term to support an MRT line.

As for Jurong Island, he said that there are no plans to extend the MRT network to the island because the future Jurong Pier station on the Jurong Region Line, which is planned for a 2028 opening, is located a short distance away from Jurong Island Checkpoint.

Building a station on Jurong Island was “unlikely” to add convenience or time savings. This is because workers will still need to go through a checkpoint and transfer to a last-mile shuttle to their final destination, since developments are spread out across the island, he added.

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