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New MRT lines may extend to Changi Airport

SINGAPORE — The authorities are studying the possibility of extending the Thomson-East Coast Line (TEL) and the Cross Island Line (CRL) to Changi Airport, taking commuters islandwide to the airport “with no more than one transfer”, said Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan on Thursday (July 21).

New MRT lines may extend to Changi Airport

The site for the new Marine Parade MRT station. Photo: Robin Choo

SINGAPORE — The authorities are studying the possibility of extending the Thomson-East Coast Line (TEL) and the Cross Island Line (CRL) to Changi Airport, taking commuters islandwide to the airport “with no more than one transfer”, said Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan on Thursday (July 21).

Speaking at the groundbreaking ceremony for the nine-station eastern stretch of the TEL, Mr Khaw said its extension will be linked to the existing Changi Airport MRT station for Terminals 1 to 4, and also to the upcoming Terminal 5.

Commuters will be directly connected from the airport to the city via the line, which cuts through Orchard and Shenton Way.

“If feasible, this extension would be operational together with the opening of the new Terminal 5,” said the Land Transport Authority (LTA) in a press release on Thursday.

Meanwhile, the CRL could bring commuters to Terminal 5 and the new industrial zone in Changi for airfreight and air express operators, as well as maintenance and repair activities.

“These options enable many commuters who use the MRT network to get from all parts of the island to the airport with no more than one transfer,” said Mr Khaw, who is also Coordinating Minister for Infrastructure, at the groundbreaking site next to Parc Seabreeze condo along Joo Chiat Road.

Outlining the possibilities of the extension, he said a commuter could travel from Kuala Lumpur to Jurong East on the upcoming High-Speed Rail (HSR), and transit to the CRL to the airport. 

“How the Jurong East HSR terminus will be connected to our airport and our city centre in the Central Business District (CBD) was a topic of great interest with our friends from Malaysia at the HSR event a few days ago,” said Mr Khaw.

He was referring to the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding on the HSR project between Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his Malaysian counterpart Najib Razak on Tuesday. 

Mr Khaw added: “(There were) a lot of questions for us about whether Jurong East terminus will be standalone. I said: ‘No. Obviously, it won’t be. In fact, we have major plans for the whole Jurong area. We’re serious about seeing it become the second CBD’.”

More details will be announced after the completion of engineering feasibility studies for the TEL and CRL lines, said Mr Khaw. 

UniSIM senior lecturer Park Byung Joon said the airport extension would benefit those looking for a shopping experience in the East. 

“The airport is not just an airport, it’s also going to be a shopping hub with Project Jewel. Right now, only the East-West Line serves the airport. This will make it more convenient for commuters.”

National University of Singapore transport researcher Lee Der-Horng added that the extension of the two lines would help with the expected increase in passenger load, once Terminals 4 and 5 are completed.

At 43km, the TEL is the third-longest MRT line in Singapore. It can carry 500,000 passengers daily, and is slated to open between 2019 and 2024.

“It will strengthen our MRT network as the backbone of our public transport system, and make public transport a mode of choice for even more Singaporeans,” Mr Khaw said. 

Thursday’s ceremony also marked the start of construction for the Downtown Line 3 extension to Sungei Bedok and the East Coast Integrated Depot, which will stack three train depots at the site vertically and be co-located with a bus depot.

The integrated depot will feature state-of-the-art technology, possibly inspired by the London subway system, said Mr Khaw.

During a recent trip to study London depots, the LTA visited an automatic train inspection facility that uses visual, impact and temperature sensors to monitor train conditions.

“They have also installed electrical sensors on their track circuits, so that they can monitor both the tracks, as well as the trains whenever they pass through them,” Mr Khaw said.

“The operators then analyse and act based on the data collected, to pick up and follow up on symptoms of failure before the failure actually happens. These are useful innovations and we will see what we can adapt for Singapore,” he added.

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