They will run through estates in north and east; North-South and East-West lines will also be extended by 2015
TWO new underground MRT lines will be built by 2020 – one from Woodlands to Marina Bay via Thomson, and the other from Changi to Marina Bay via Marine Parade.
The 27km Thomson line will run through Sin Ming and Kim Seng, while the Eastern Region Line (ERL) will slice through Siglap and Tanjong Rhu. All are neighbourhoods not served by the MRT now.
The two new lines add 48km of rail and possibly 30 new stations.
In addition, extensions will be made to the East-West and North-South lines by 2015.
The East-West line will stretch 14km out to Tuas with an above-ground track, while the North-South line will be extended underground to Marina South.
These four additions, together with the lines now being built, will extend the rail network from the current 138km of track to 278km.
The tab: $20 billion. This is over and above the $20 billion already committed for the Circle Line, the Downtown Line and the Boon Lay extension.
When completed, cross-city trips will be faster; commuters will have a train stop within 400m, or five minutes’ walking distance, said Transport Minister Raymond Lim yesterday.
He was delivering Part Two of his three-part policy speech on improvements to Singapore’s land transport system.
He first unveiled a slew of changes to the bus system last week, and will wrap it up next week with what is in store for other road users.
With the Thomson Line in operation, commuters in Sin Ming, for example, will shave 20 minutes off their current 45-minute trip to the city; those in Marine Parade will get to Marina Bay on the ERL in 20 minutes – almost as fast as by car, said Mr Lim.
The extensions to the existing East-West and North-South lines will also shorten commuting time.
Take, for example, a commuter who lives in Clementi and works in Tuas. To get to work now, he will have to take a train from Clementi to Boon Lay, from where it will take him another 35 minutes by bus to his destination. With the extension of the East-West line to Tuas, he will save 20 minutes.
Mr Lim, who toured the Kim Chuan train depot yesterday, said: ‘Commuters can look forward to new extensions or stages of new lines opening almost every other year until 2020.’
The next milestone will be marked in the middle of next year, when Stage 3 of the Circle Line opens – a year ahead of schedule – to connect areas such as Lorong Chuan and Bartley.
But commuters will experience improvements from next month, when 93 train trips will be added every week during the rush hours to ease crowding and cut waiting times.
Down the road, new trains will be bought and work done on the two oldest tracks so they can carry 15 per cent more passengers.
As with bus routes, the Government will also open up the rail market to competition. Contracts to run rail services will be 10 to 15 years long, down from 30.
To enhance the commuter’s experience, more covered linkways and overhead bridges will be built in the next two years; the elderly and disabled will have full access to buses and improved access to MRT stations. A sixmonth trial to allow foldable bicycles on trains will also be carried out.
As for taxi commuters, a centralised call booking centre will be set up by July.
Mr Lim gave the assurance that fares will continue to be regulated by the Public Transport Council, and help will be given to those who cannot afford to pay.
Source: The Straits Times 26 Jan 08