Thursday, 27 August 2015

Jurong Region Line may be extended to join Circle Line

Engineering studies being done; extension would give residents in the west another way to get to CBD
By Christopher Tan, Senior Transport Correspondent, The Straits Times, 26 Aug 2015

In what may be his last public announcement, Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew said yesterday that the planned Jurong Region Line - a medium-capacity MRT line serving the west - could be extended southwards to join the Circle Line at Haw Par Villa station.

Mr Lui, who is leaving politics after the elections, said the new 20km line, with some 16 stations, will also stop at the North-South Line's Choa Chu Kang station and at Jurong East to link up with the planned Singapore-Kuala Lumpur high-speed rail terminus, the future Cross Island Line and the Nanyang Technological University (NTU).

Mr Lui said engineering studies are currently being done on the Jurong Region Line. The line is estimated to be ready by 2025, while the extension - if found to be feasible - will be completed by 2030.

Mr Lui said the new line will serve areas like Choa Chu Kang, Jurong East, Jurong West, the new Tengah town, Boon Lay as well as NTU.

Its so-called West Coast Extension, roughly 7km long, "will allow those who use the Jurong Region Line a direct connection into the new downtown, Marina Bay and the area around it", he added.

"Those living in the western area will have two avenues to get to the CBD - along the existing East-West Line to City Hall, and also using the Jurong Region Line connecting to the Circle Line into the downtown area," Mr Lui said. This will be possible when the final stage of the Circle Line - a 4km stretch linking HarbourFront station to Marina Bay station to make a complete circle - is completed by 2025.

Mr Lui said the project will make life more convenient for those who live and work in the west, and at the same time "add redundancy and resilience into the (rail) network", so that when there is a breakdown on one line, commuters can switch to an alternative line without travelling too far.

Mr S. Iswaran, an MP for West Coast GRC, said the West Coast Extension "will be a very welcome piece of news" to residents in private and Housing Board estates in Pandan Gardens, Teban Gardens and the West Coast areas.

Mr Iswaran said while he wants the engineering studies to be done properly, he and his fellow West Coast GRC MP Foo Mee Har will be "encouraging the Ministry of Transport and LTA (Land Transport Authority) to expedite this project".

Yesterday, Mr Lui also viewed two new link bridges at Clementi MRT station. Installed with two escalators and a lift each, the bridges connect commuters from both sides of the road to the station concourse. Mr Lui said they were part of a plan to upgrade older stations to make them more accessible.

Plans are also under way to expand the platform area at 16 older stations to accommodate a fast-growing commuter population. The minister said this would require the removal of some station furniture, reconfiguration of the platform layout, and extending the floor to "slab over some of the void spaces, especially where the escalators come up and down".

Asked what he would be doing after he leaves politics, Mr Lui reiterated that he was leaving without any plans.

"I've no plans. I don't intend to make any plans until I've handed over to the next transport minister, whoever he or she may be.

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