Two MRT stations will open in Sungei Kadut and Brickland to serve Singapore’s north-west by the mid-2030s, part of an extended rail system that may even include a new train line to connect Woodlands to Marina East through Sengkang.
These are among the key transport enhancements revealed yesterday in the Land Transport Master Plan (LTMP) 2040, with the aim of reducing travel time to the city to 45 minutes, and to the nearest town to 20 minutes.
Plans also include bus-only roads to improve speeds, and more integrated transport hubs for seamless travel between buses and trains.
But it is the expansion of Singapore’s rail system that will be the “backbone” in cutting travel times, said Senior Minister of State for Transport Janil Puthucheary.
The Sungei Kadut interchange station, to be built between Kranji and Yew Tee on the North-South Line (NSL), will be linked with the Downtown Line and provide better access to upcoming developments by JTC Corporation in the area and the future Agri-Food Innovation Park. It is expected to cut commute to the city by 30 minutes.
The new Brickland station, between Choa Chu Kang and Bukit Gombak on the NSL, will serve residents in areas such as Keat Hong and Tengah.
The upcoming Thomson-East Coast Line, which is expected to be completed by 2024, will also be extended to provide a direct link to Changi Airport by around 2040.
Meanwhile, the proposed new line from Woodlands to the Greater Southern Waterfront, which includes Marina East and Pasir Panjang, could benefit more than 400,000 households, including those in parts of Sembawang, Sengkang, Serangoon North, Whampoa and Kallang which do not have direct rail access. This could reduce travel times by up to 40 minutes.
The Land Transport Authority’s (LTA) planned feasibility study will look at issues such as demand, building time, where the stations should be placed, and existing and future land use along the corridor. Should all plans come to fruition, the total length of the rail network will nearly double from 229km to almost 400km by 2040.
Dr Janil said: “The Government is committing to deliver the idea of 20-minute towns and a 45-minute city. The key thing that is going to allow us to do that is the expansion in our rail infrastructure that we are planning for and we’re in the middle of delivering.”
He cited the Cross Island Line and Jurong Regional Line as examples of ongoing projects to achieve this goal. “Perhaps there are some areas which are underserved and we need to see whether our rail infrastructure can better serve them,” he said.
Still, adding more MRT lines are “difficult decisions to make”, given the number of lines already in Singapore and the current use of underground space. “If we get the behaviour right with respect to our transit priority corridors and the efficiency of our road network, then it may not be the case that we have to solve everything with a new MRT line.”
Transit priority corridors are enhanced bus lanes that aim to improve bus speeds, and the LTA is looking into building such corridors in areas such as Robinson Road, Loyang and Tengah. More transport hubs that integrate bus interchanges with malls will also be built in areas such as Jurong East and Tampines North, and LTA said this would help to improve connections between buses and trains.
Dr Janil also highlighted how beyond the hardware, LTMP will tackle the software of commuting by promoting graciousness and improving safety. Measures include priority cabins in MRT trains for seniors and expectant mothers, and reducing speeds from 40kmh to 30kmh in selected Silver Zones.
Transport economist Walter Theseira said: “I think the announcement of the potential new line is the most interesting one because there is a lack of rail connectivity between the north and the north-east.
“That will quite significantly reduce the travelling time between these two areas.”
Adapted from: The Straits Times, 26 May 2019