Monday, 2 September 2019

New Bukit Timah-Rochor Green Corridor to connect Singapore's three national gardens

First phase of 11km corridor will begin with construction of 1.4km elevated linear park
By Tiffany Fumiko Tay, The Straits Times, 1 Sep 2019

A new green corridor will connect Singapore's three national gardens when it is completed in the coming years as part of plans to plug a gap in Singapore's green links.

The 11km Bukit Timah-Rochor Green Corridor, which will run parallel to the Bukit Timah Canal, will give cyclists and pedestrians a continuous path between Jurong Lake Gardens, the Singapore Botanic Gardens and Gardens by the Bay.

Construction of the first phase, a 1.4km elevated linear park that will run above the canal between Bukit Timah and Dunearn roads, will begin in 2021.

There are plans for it to be extended to Kallang Riverside Park in the future.

National Development Minister Lawrence Wong announced this along with updated plans for the Rail Corridor's key Bukit Timah Railway Station node at a community event at the station yesterday.

"The land around the canal is drainage reserve. There's not a lot of land around there to build a nice green park," he said, adding that the elevated park is a way of optimising space in a compact city.

Noting that the new developments will allow Singaporeans to explore the island in different ways, he said: "You can enjoy the rich heritage and biodiversity of the Rail Corridor, and then from this major spine, branch off to explore other recreational connections."

Neram and rain trees are among the species that will line the initial 1.4km of the Bukit Timah-Rochor Green Corridor.

They were selected to create a "riverine rainforest experience" and additional shade for those traversing the section above the canal, said Ms G. Kannagi, director of development management at the National Parks Board (NParks).

Extending the corridor to Kallang would "provide a wonderful opportunity for people from the west to be able to access the city centre in a green setting", she added.

The first stretch of the new corridor will connect to existing overhead bridges as well as the Rail Corridor near the Bukit Timah Railway Station node.

An orchard featuring cempedak, binjai and other fruit trees, amenities such as toilets and bicycle racks and a heritage gallery housed in the conserved railway station are among plans for the node.

The station, which has fallen into disrepair, will be restored along with the tracks, truss bridges and other rail artefacts.

The nearby staff quarters will have a heritage garden, and may house a small food and beverage establishment in the future.

Works to restore both buildings will be done in accordance with conservation guidelines, NParks and the Urban Redevelopment Authority said.

The 24km Rail Corridor, a continuous green stretch that runs from Woodlands in the north to Tanjong Pagar in the south, lies along the old railway line between Singapore and the Malaysian peninsula.

Trail improvement and other works to enhance a central 4km stretch of the corridor began last year.

The Bukit Timah Railway Station node will be the first of several planned way stations along the route for which work will start early next year.

The 1930s station along the former KTM railway line has not been used since 2011, when the railway was decommissioned.

With most of the tracks and railway equipment along the Rail Corridor having been removed as part of a land swop agreement with Malaysia, the remaining tracks and steel truss bridges surrounding the former Bukit Timah station have made it a popular photo spot for visitors.

The southern half of the corridor, currently closed for pipe-laying works by PUB, will be fully reopened by next year.

About 4.2km of the 11km section has been reopened thus far. The Rail Corridor is expected to be fully accessible by 2021, when trail improvement works are completed.

Nature, heritage groups back green corridor plan
Nature Society president says planned elevated linear park could rival New York's High Line
By Tiffany Fumiko Tay, The Straits Times, 1 Sep 2019

The idea for the Bukit Timah Canal to serve as a green corridor has been around for some years, and work to spruce up the adjacent Rail Corridor may finally turn it into reality, said Dr Shawn Lum, president of the Nature Society (Singapore), yesterday.

Dr Lum, who backed the idea in a 2016 interview with The Straits Times, noted that the canal intersects with a number of large green patches, "so linking them up and adding appropriate landscaping would be really interesting".

Plans for an elevated linear park suggest that it could rival New York's High Line, which is also a park built on a former railroad, he added.

Members of the nature and heritage community largely supported the plans unveiled yesterday to create a new green corridor that will link Singapore's three national gardens, and to spruce up the Bukit Timah Railway Station on the Green Corridor.

But there have been some concerns voiced over proposed additions to the Rail Corridor, such as fencing on either side of the conserved truss bridges to enhance safety.

Said Ms Teresa Teo Guttensohn, president of non-governmental organisation Cicada Tree Eco-Place: "Having too high a fence may not be necessary, and it's not nice aesthetically. Our view is that there should be as few urban constructs as possible."

URA executive architect John Wan said feedback was taken into consideration in the finalisation of plans for the Rail Corridor's Bukit Timah Railway Station node.

"Mood lighting", for example, will be used between 7pm and 10pm to showcase the architectural features of the station's heritage buildings. After 10pm, the lights will dim to minimise disturbance to wildlife.

Heritage blogger Jerome Lim said he felt that the plans struck the right balance.

"The buildings have been sitting there for some years without being used - at least this will take people there to learn about their history," he said.

Student Tanvi Dutta Gupta, who has visited the Rail Corridor regularly for a decade, created a website last year to help visitors to the Rail Corridor identify wildlife in the area.

The website,, catalogues 96 species of creatures commonly found along the corridor. Nature lovers can identify and learn about animals they encounter by selecting their features.

Ms Dutta Gupta, a member of the Nature Society, noted that green corridors are crucial for wildlife conservation in Singapore.

The 18-year-old gave the thumbs up to plans for the railway waypoint.

But she added: "Anything that gets people more excited about nature in Singapore is a good thing. I just hope it leaves room for the wildlife too."

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