Friday 25 January 2013

Govt to spend S$700 million to boost MRT access and lower noise from elevated railway tracks; More pedestrian overhead bridges fitted with lifts

By Hetty Musfirah, Channel NewsAsia, 24 Jan 2013

The Government will spend close to S$700 million to make transport nodes more accessible, elderly friendly and conducive for commuters.

The plans mapped out in the new Land Transport Master plan, were announced by Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew today.

One of the new initiatives, Walk2Ride, will make it easier for more commuters to walk to MRT stations.

The Land Transport Authority will build sheltered linkways within a 400 metre radius from all existing MRT stations, compared to the current 200 metres.

The LTA will also link up developments within a 200 metre radius of all bus interchanges, LRT stations and high usage bus shelters

In all, some 200 kilometres of linkways will be added islandwide by 2018 – more than four times the existing 46 kilometres today.

The project is expected to cost some S$330 million and will begin from 2014.

Currently, sheltered linkways are built to link only to schools, healthcare institutions and other transport nodes like bus stops and taxi stands. But under Walk2Ride, shopping, leisure, commercial and residential areas will also be linked.

More pedestrian overhead bridges will also become more elderly and wheel-chair friendly.

The LTA has reviewed the provision criteria to build more lifts at such bridges. These include those located within 200 metres of MRT stations and 100 metres of LRT stations.

Some 40 bridges which qualify have been identified for further feasibility studies.

A budget of about S$60 million has been set aside to install the lifts from 2014. Half will be completed by 2016 and the remaining by 2018.

Another S$300 million will be spent on installing some 20 kilometres of noise barriers along elevated MRT tracks.

Since September, the LTA has been measuring noise levels at 455 residential flats located close to such tracks.

And in some locations, the noise levels were found to have exceeded the National Environment Agency’s guideline of 67 decibels.

Mr Lui said residents living close to MRT viaducts, such as those in Simei, Marsiling and Dover, can expect noise levels to be reduced by above five to 10 decibels.

It intends to start installing the barriers from end this year and complete them by 2020.

Easier commute for seniors with lifts at more bridges
By Christopher Tan And Debbie Lee, The Straits Times, 25 Jan 2013

IN A move that is set to make life easier for the elderly and disabled, around half of all pedestrian bridges near train stations or bus interchanges will be fitted with lifts by 2018.

Yesterday, Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew announced plans to spend $60 million on the project, which will start next year.

The lifts will make it more convenient, especially for nearby residents, something that those along Farrer Road - where there is a bridge with a lift - can attest to.

"It benefits older people like me," said freelance physical therapist Suraya Osman, 56, who lives in the area.

"The steps of the overhead bridge are a bit high, and some find it difficult to go up. Many also do grocery shopping at the nearby Empress market, so the heavy bags make it even tougher for them to climb the stairs."

Retiree Jimmy Ngiam, 81, who has lived in the Farrer Road area for 40 years, agreed.

He said: "Before the lift was built, wheelchair-bound people had to go to the nearest traffic light, which is 100m from the bus stop, and make a U-turn to cross over to the other side."

Another retired resident, Tan Chin Hoa, 83, said: "In the past, I would suffer from leg pain when I climbed the stairs to the other side.

"Now, when I take the lift, my legs don't hurt so much."

Singapore has around 100 pedestrian overhead bridges near a station or bus interchange. Under the new plan, 40 of them will be fitted with lifts.

Six others are also due to have lifts by the end of this year. They are near the Aljunied, Bishan, Khatib, Kranji, Sengkang and Yew Tee MRT stations.

Newer stations such as the Circle Line's Farrer Road, Labrador Park, Botanic Gardens and Haw Par Villa already have overhead bridges with lifts.

Ms Lee Bee Wah, an MP for Nee Soon GRC, was among the first to welcome the new plans yesterday.

She has been the most vocal advocate of having lifts at overhead bridges.

"I am very happy," she told The Straits Times. "I have been lobbying for it for four years. I spoke in Parliament on it four times."

She added: "Initially, people couldn't imagine lifts on overhead bridges. But we have a greying population. My own constituents have been telling me that they have difficulty getting to Khatib station."

20km of barriers to cut down noise of passing trains
By Jermyn Chow And Debbie Lee, 
The Straits Times, 25 Jan 2013

WHEN a train rushes past in the open air, the resulting din can be the equivalent of loud music blaring. Sound barriers, however, can bring it closer to the level of background noise in a supermarket.

So, about 20km of noise barriers will be erected across the island by 2020, to give people living near elevated MRT lines much-needed respite from passing trains.

The move, announced by Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew yesterday, follows a year-long study of 455 Housing Board blocks near elevated open tracks. These include viaducts or turnout locations, where two lines merge so trains can be diverted from one to another.

The study found noise levels in these areas ranged from 80 to 85 decibels when a train passed by - the equivalent of loud music being played. This is above the National Environment Agency's limit of 67 decibels - comparable to noise in a supermarket.

During trials, barriers were erected in Bishan, Tampines, Jurong East and Toh Guan Road.

Mr Lui said they cut sound levels by between five and 10 decibels.

Residents welcomed the new project, which will cost $300 million. "I'm used to the noise, as I have been living near an MRT station all my life," said 21-year-old student Ooi Su Xin, whose home faces Marsiling MRT station. "But a new sound barrier would be great."

Retiree Peter Kok, 72, whose home is opposite the tracks in Bishan, said noise levels had fallen by about 30 per cent since sound barriers were installed last year.

The Land Transport Authority has said in the past that fitting barriers is complex as it can be done only during a three-hour period when trains are off-service.

Work also has to be coordinated with SMRT's ongoing resignalling and sleeper-replacement projects.

The authority is also testing noise reduction measures along roads with high traffic volumes, including the West Coast Highway viaduct in Telok Blangah Road.

* First phase of railway noise barrier project on track for completion in 2018: LTA
Barriers up, noise down for those who live near MRT tracks
By Adrian Lim, Transport Correspondent, The Straits Times, 10 Feb 2018

The first phase of a project to install noise barriers along MRT viaducts is more than 80 per cent done, and is targeted to be completed this year, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) said yesterday.

The outstanding sections of track to have barriers installed are between Lakeside and Boon Lay stations, Aljunied and Paya Lebar stations, and Paya Lebar and Eunos stations.

The LTA said 4.5m-high barriers will be used at these sections, instead of the regular 2.5m ones the authority has installed elsewhere. This is to "better mitigate the noise profile", it said, as these are turnout sections where trains change tracks.

The LTA started installing noise barriers at above-ground MRT tracks in late 2013 for locations such as Admiralty, Marsiling, Sembawang, Ang Mo Kio, Pioneer and Yew Tee.

When the first phase is completed, 11.5km of barriers will be installed at 25 locations.

Design works for Phase 2 are under way, with installation expected to start in the second half of this year, the LTA said. Phase 2 will cover 20 new locations, including Tampines, Ang Mo Kio and Clementi, with 10km of railway noise barriers.

According to measurements taken at residential buildings, the noise barriers are able to reduce noise from passing trains by at least five decibels, the LTA said.

Residents in Blocks 334 and 335 in Sembawang Close, which is beside the North-South Line MRT viaduct, said there was a reduction in the noise emitted by passing trains after barriers were installed in 2016.

IT consultant Mahendran Rajagopal, 45, said: "We used to hear the noise of train wheels over the rails, but not any more.

"During the night, when there is less surrounding noise, the noise from the trains is 'louder'. But we have got used to it."

Mr Anuar Husin, 46, who is currently unemployed, said noise levels have reduced, but said that older models of trains generate more noise than newer ones.

The LTA said yesterday that it will carry out a more in-depth noise measurement study, and the findings will be used to plan other noise mitigation measures in the future. It said that installing the noise barriers requires track access during MRT off-service hours and the retrofitting of existing railway structures.

The shorter MRT operating hours which went into effect in December have given engineers more time to work, the LTA added.

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