Saturday 31 October 2015

Circle Line will become a full circle by 2025

Three new stations to close loop for Circle Line
Rail extension will offer direct routes to city, Marina Bay area when it is completed in 2025
By Adrian Lim, The Straits Times, 30 Oct 2015

The Circle Line (CCL) will finally be true to its name in 2025, when a 4km rail stretch with three new stations - Keppel, Cantonment and Prince Edward - is completed.

This sixth stage of the CCL will link existing terminal stations HarbourFront and Marina Bay, offering commuters direct routes to the city and Marina Bay area.

For example, a trip from Telok Blangah to Marina Bay now requires two transfers - from the CCL to the North East Line, and then the North-South Line. With the completion of the extension, a commuter can reach his destination in a single train ride, cutting travelling time by a third, or about 10 minutes.

The additional stations will also expand the rail network to areas such as Prince Edward, Everton Park and the southern edge of the city.

Senior Minister of State for Transport Ng Chee Meng, who unveiled the new stations during a visit to the Tuas West Extension, said yesterday: "(The) CCL6 will support direct east-west travel, enhancing overall connectivity between areas such as Paya Lebar and Mountbatten, and areas such as Pasir Panjang, Kent Ridge and Harbour-Front."

He added that the extension will enhance the CCL's role as an orbital line allowing commuters to transfer between MRT lines without entering the city centre.

This extension will cost $3.7 billion and construction is expected to start in the middle of 2017. More than 400,000 commuters use the line daily and the Land Transport Authority (LTA) expects ridership to grow further, though it did not provide a projection.

The extension will also support future developments, such as the Greater Southern Waterfront proj-ect, a 1,000ha slice of coastal land that will be freed up by the relocation of ports from Pasir Panjang and Tanjong Pagar to Tuas by 2027.

The Keppel station will provide commuters with access to the area, along with the current Keppel Distripark.

Meanwhile, the Cantonment station will be near the Tanjong Pagar Railway Station and offer access to Spottiswoode Park Estate and Cantonment Towers. It will be beneath a section of the old station's track platforms and LTA said it will work to see how the platforms can be preserved.

The Prince Edward station will be near Palmer Road, where heritage landmarks like the Hock Teck See Temple and Haji Muhammad Salleh Mosque are.

To cater to the construction, four part lots of private land - including open areas, container stacking lots and driveways - will be acquired. The combined land space gazetted is 7,721.6 sq m.

One of the four is a 648.6 sq m plot in the Tanjong Pagar Distripark that is currently a driveway and carpark for Bougainvillea Realty. The firm is a holding company under Mapletree Investments, whose spokesman said it will need time to evaluate the impact, and will work with the authorities to facilitate the acquisition.

Commuters interviewed are looking forward to the full loop.

Public relations executive Eugene Chuang, 25, who lives along Dunearn Road, said that instead of taking an hour-long bus journey on service 171 to Marina Bay, he will be able to take the Circle Line from Botanic Gardens station. "I estimate the journey will take no longer than 40 minutes, since going from Botanic Gardens to HarbourFront currently takes 25 minutes, and it's just three stations and 4km more."

Exciting news: Our Circle Line (CCL) will finally live up to its name and become a full circle with the opening of CCL6...
Posted by Land Transport Authority – We Keep Your World Moving on Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The 4km CCL6 comprises only 3 stations, but don’t you underestimate them! They have been planned to strategically...
Posted by Land Transport Authority – We Keep Your World Moving on Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Part of Tanjong Pagar rail terminus to make way for MRT station
LTA seeking advice from heritage groups on 'possible solutions' for affected platforms
By Melody Zaccheus, The Straits Times, 30 Oct 2015

Parts of the historic Tanjong Pagar Railway Station's platforms will be making way for the construction of the new underground Cantonment station on the Circle Line.

The Land Transport Authority (LTA) said yesterday it will seek advice from the heritage community on "possible solutions" for the two affected parallel stretches. The railway station was gazetted a national monument in 2011, alongside two 80m stretches of the platforms. The remaining 350m on each side are not part of the gazette.

The Straits Times understands that the authorities met six heritage experts on Tuesday and presented them with three options.

They were: to preserve the old platforms by dismantling, storing and reinstating them; to produce a replica; or to create a "new interpretation" of the railway platforms.

All the experts picked the first option. Singapore Heritage Society (SHS) president Chua Ai Lin said: "It is the only choice if you are serious about preserving history. The platforms must be reinstated as they are crucial in maintaining the railway's integrity."

LTA has also engaged Studio Lapis, an architectural conservation specialist consultancy, to assess the heritage significance and condition of the former railway station, and advise on mitigation measures.

Its co-founder, architectural restoration specialist Ho Weng Hin, said the second option is not feasible. It is unlikely that builders can replicate the former station's reinforced concrete platform structures to the "same level of craftsmanship and proportions", he said.

The 1932 station, designed by colonial architectural firm Swan and Maclaren, was the southern terminus of the Malaysian KTM railway company's network for 79 years.

The Cantonment station, slated to be ready by 2025, is one of three new stops for the sixth stage of the Circle Line. The other two stations are Keppel and Prince Edward.

LTA chief executive Chew Men Leong said the Cantonment location was selected as it fits in with the overall alignment, will serve existing catchments, and cater to future developments such as the Greater Southern Waterfront. LTA stressed that measures will be taken to sensitively integrate the new station with the railway building.

Experts said locating Cantonment station alongside the old railway complex could provide a sense of historical continuity. To achieve this, heritage enthusiast and naval architect Jerome Lim suggested that the old structure serve as a thoroughfare for future commuters.

But the authorities have yet to decide if the former railway will be accessible to the public when the new station is ready. The Tanjong Pagar Railway property, managed by the Singapore Land Authority, is now usually open on public holidays.

Experts also raised the question of why the platforms were not fully preserved in the National Heritage Board's (NHB) gazette.

Heritage law expert Kevin Tan said: "Without its platforms, the railway station will lose its sense of coherence. It would be like a head without its body."

In a joint reply, NHB and the Urban Redevelopment Authority said the critical parts adjoining the former railway station building were gazetted as part of the national monument. They said the rest of the platforms were not gazetted to provide the flexibility for future developments in the area to be designed and integrated meaningfully with the national monument.

They said: "We did not foresee it at the point of gazette, but this flexibility has facilitated plans to incorporate the new MRT station at the site, which will be critical to the former railway station's future success as a community node."

SHS exco member Yeo Kang Shua said the construction of the Prince Edward station, located in the heart of the historic Tanjong Malang, presents an opportunity for an archaeological impact assessment. "There should be an investigation into the first few metres of earth where the cultural layer lies."

Biggest underground train depot set to become even bigger
By Adrian Lim, The Straits Times, 30 Oct 2015

When it opened in 2009, Kim Chuan train depot was hailed as the biggest underground depot in the world. By 2025 it will be even bigger.

The 12ha facility, which stables trains for the Circle Line (CCL), will be expanded by another 16ha, allowing it to hold 133 trains, up from the current 70. The project will cost $2.3 billion.

This will give the Land Transport Authority (LTA) the "ability to expand the (train) fleet" in tandem with expected passenger growth on the CCL, which will become a complete loop by 2025, said chief executive Chew Men Leong.

To optimise land use, the expanded section of the Kim Chuan depot will also have an above-ground facility to house 550 buses.

Yesterday, Senior Minister of State for Transport Ng Chee Meng announced the alignment and station locations for the sixth stage of the CCL (CCL6) - a three-station, 4km link joining the existing HarbourFront and Marina Bay stations.

More than 400,000 commuters use the Circle Line every day.

Any idea which Depot houses our Circle Line (CCL) trains: None other than our legendary Kim Chuan Depot! And yes, it’s...
Posted by Land Transport Authority – We Keep Your World Moving on Thursday, October 29, 2015

Mr Chew said: "With the closure of the Circle Line (loop), this will certainly expand. We don't have a full estimate... It also depends on the developments that will come as we complete the CCL6, that will create a new catchment and, therefore, new ridership."

Besides offering commuters direct routes to the Central Business District (CBD) and Marina Bay area, the new link will also extend the rail network into areas, such as Spottiswoode, Everton Park and the southern edge of the CBD.

There are currently 47 trains in the Circle Line fleet and another 17 will be added by the end of next year. Mr Chew said the LTA will be adding even more trains after that to meet rising demand.

An LTA spokesman told The Straits Times: "CCL6 was not built earlier as the catchment and ridership for that section of the line was projected to be insufficient for the additional stations to be viable."

With expected development and travel demand growth along the CCL corridor in areas such as Buona Vista, one-North, Paya Lebar Sub-Regional Centre and the CBD extension in Shenton Way and Marina Bay, there was now a greater need to support east-west connections on the CCL southern corridor by closing the loop.

Additional reporting by Christopher Tan

* Work to close Circle Line loop will start in 2018
Preparatory works under way; 3 new stations along 4km extension will reach new commuters when ready in 2025
By Christopher Tan, Senior Transport Correspondent, The Straits Times, 13 Apr 2017

Advance preparatory works to make the Circle Line a complete loop, by joining HarbourFront station to Marina Bay station, have begun.

Tenders for the civil works are expected to be awarded by the year end, and construction will begin in the first quarter of next year, the Land Transport Authority said late on Tuesday.

The 4km extension is expected to be completed in 2025 and will have three stations - Keppel, Cantonment and Prince Edward.

Preparatory works include relocating affected facilities at PSA Keppel Terminal for the construction of Keppel station, dismantling the platform canopy structures of Tanjong Pagar Railway Station (which will be repaired and reinstated after the construction of Cantonment station) and the relocation of Shenton Way Bus Terminal for the construction of Prince Edward station.

The extension project is expected to cost $3.7 billion, with the Government stating in its latest Budget book that the advanced works would cost $30.6 million.

The total cost translates to $925 million per km - more than three times the cost of the existing Circle Line, which cost an average of $300 million per km when it was completed in 2011.

Separately, another $2.3 billion has been allocated to expand the Kim Chuan depot to stable more trains that the extension will require.

The three additional stations will reach out to new commuters.

For example, Keppel station will serve commuters at Keppel Distripark, while Cantonment station will be near Tanjong Pagar Railway Station and offer access to Spottiswoode Park Estate.

The Prince Edward station will be near Palmer Road, where heritage landmarks are.

The extension will also serve part of the Greater Southern Waterfront, a massive mixed-used development that will commence once the Tanjong Pagar, Keppel and Brani port terminals are relocated to Tuas after their leases expire in 2027.

Besides reaching new commuters, the extension will allow those travelling between the south-western and south-eastern ends of the line - such as from Pasir Panjang to Nicoll Highway - to have more direct and quicker access.

Commuter Ashley Wu, 37, said any new MRT line or extension will be beneficial to all commuters.

"Personally, I have cut down on taxi rides since Downtown Line 2 opened last year," said the sales and marketing manager who lives in Bukit Panjang.

"The only issue is the traffic problems MRT construction would cause," she added.

"However, the end result outweighs the inconvenience."

**  Rising costs push bill for final stage of Circle Line to $4.85 billion

Construction challenges, inflation and system upgrade lead to costs growing beyond initial projections, says LTA
By Christopher Tan, Senior Transport Correspondent, The Straits Times, 11 Apr 2019

The sixth and final stage of the Circle Line will cost $4.85 billion - more than half what the first five stages of the orbital MRT line cost.

The 4km Circle Line 6 (CCL6), which will make the Circle Line a complete circle, will cost $1.2 billion per kilometre, or five times the average per-km cost of the first five stages spanning 33km.

The cost of the first five operating stages - at around $8 billion - covers an underground train depot in Kim Chuan, as well as additional expenses associated with a tunnel collapse at Nicoll Highway in 2004.

At $4.85 billion, the cost of the final stage also exceeds the $3.7 billion projected for it in 2015.

Responding to queries from The Straits Times, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) attributed the cost escalation to various factors.

"First, construction of CCL6 is challenging," the LTA said, explaining that the line will run underneath "built-up downtown areas and the old Tanjong Pagar Railway Station building".

The challenge, it added, included integrating the new stretch to the first five stages, which are already in operation.

Next, inflation. The authority pointed out that work on the first five stages of the Circle Line "started almost two decades ago, when price levels were lower".

It added that the bill also included the cost of expanding the CCL Kim Chuan Depot, and the building of a multi-storey bus depot.

Lastly, the authority said operating systems on the existing Circle Line had to be upgraded to match that of CCL6.

Could all six stages of the Circle Line have been built at one go, to save on inflationary cost?

Weighing in, National University of Singapore transport researcher Lee Der-Horng said: "It is kind of obvious that CCL6 is necessary for the further development of the Greater Southern Waterfront."

He added that a complete circle is more beneficial to commuters, "just like the Yamanote Line... which connects the busiest and most important built-up areas in Tokyo".

Transport economist Walter Theseira of the Singapore University of Social Sciences said: "I suspect that the connection at the south is somewhat less economical to build in the first instance, especially since it doesn't add much to connectivity."

But Dr Theseira noted that there has been "quite a shift in thinking" regarding how rail infrastructure is financed over the years.

Previously, every line had to be deemed commercially viable on its own before it could be built.

Also, he said, a completely orbital line being able to provide better redundancy to the rail network "probably wasn't appreciated in the 1990s" when the Circle Line was planned.

Construction of CCL6, which will have three stations in the Keppel area, has begun. It is slated to open in 2025.

***  Tunnelling works for Circle Line MRT extension completed on 12 January 2022
By Christopher Tan, Senior Transport Correspondent, The Straits Times, 12 Jan 2022

Tunnelling works for the Circle MRT Line extension were completed on Wednesday (Jan 12) morning, connecting the western and eastern ends of the orbital line.

The tunnel breakthrough at Cantonment station - one of three stations along the 4km extension which makes the Circle Line a complete loop - marks the completion of 55 per cent of civil works, which started in 2019.

The extension from HarbourFront to Marina Bay is slated to open in 2026, and will cut travelling time.

For instance, commuters from Telok Blangah will have a direct commute to Marina Bay, saving around 10 minutes.

With the extension, the Circle Line will have 33 stations spanning 40km, including 12 interchanges with other MRT lines. Besides Cantonment station – which is a stone’s throw from the historic Tanjong Pagar railway station – the extension will have two other stations: Prince Edward Road and Keppel.

Transport Minister S. Iswaran, who was present when a tunnel-boring machine broke through half a metre of concrete retaining wall, said it was “an important milestone for this project”.

When completed, the extension will mean more convenience for commuters as well as “greater resilience in our overall MRT system”, he added. This means when there is a rail disruption in the network, commuters have more alternatives because of the dozen interchange stations along the Circle Line.

“I think this is an important milestone also because the project itself has been encountering a series of challenges... because the actual tunnelling itself has had to take place near many heritage buildings, in proximity to other foundations of commercial buildings and other MRT stations,” the minister added.

The Land Transport Authority (LTA) noted, for instance, that tunnel-boring machines had to cut through piles supporting the Keppel Viaduct – a major elevated road. To do so, engineers built deep retaining walls and excavated below the piles.

They then bored new micro-piles around the existing piles. Above these new piles, they cast a massive transfer beam which now supports the viaduct.

They then severed the old piles, so that vibration from the tunnel-boring machines – which had to be equipped with special cutters which can cut through steel piles – is not transferred back to the viaduct.

Meanwhile, the LTA said expansion works on the massive Kim Chuan Depot in Paya Lebar is "progressing well".

The underground depot will house 23 new trains which will be acquired for the extended Circle Line. In total, the expanded Kim Chuan Depot will be able to house 133 trains, up from 70 today.

It will also incorporate a bus depot which will accommodate 550 buses, and is slated to be completed when the Circle Line extension opens in 2026.

Joint Release by the Land Transport Authority (LTA) & SLA - Circle Line 6 – Becoming A Full Circle -29 Oct 2015
Factsheet: Four New Stations on Tuas West Extension on Track for Completion by 2016 -29 Oct 2015

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