TIANJIN - A delayed rail line connecting the Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-city (SSTEC) to the other parts of Tianjin city was finally launched on Thursday (April 28) with a groundbreaking ceremony attended by Singapore's National Development Minister Lawrence Wong.
The long-anticipated semi express line, which will link the eco-city to a high-speed rail line that connects to Tianjin city and capital Beijing, is expected to be completed by 2020. It will also link the SSTEC to an existing light rail line in the wider Binhai New Area.
Currently, eco-city residents have to take a half-hour bus ride before being able to connect to the Binhai rail network, while driving to Tianjin city can take between 60 and 90 mins. The new rail line journey to Tianjin city is expected to take an hour.
Mr Wong, making his first visit in his new portfolio to the bilateral project that began in 2008, also co-chaired the 7th SSTEC Joint Working Committee meeting with Housing and Urban-Rural Development Minister Chen Zhenggao.
In his opening speech, he thanked the Chinese government for enhancing the rail connectivity of the eco-city, which he said will serve to accelerate its development.
"We believe the eco-city can be a role model to support China's urbanisation and a good example of sustainable development that we can share with China and the world," Mr Wong added.
Both men later signed several agreements including a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between Singapore's National Parks Board and the Eco-City Administrative Committee (ECAC) on developing a Sino-Singapore Friendship Garden. An MOU between the Building and Construction Authority and the ECAC on promoting the Eco-city's green building standards was also inked.
The eco-city broke ground in September 2008 and is aiming to build an environment-friendly business park for 350,000 residents on a 30 sq km site in the coastal Tianjin city.
Plans for a rail line had been mooted as early as 2010 although it is believed to have been delayed by the Tianjin government's revision in plans.
The number of people living and working in the SSTEC has more than doubled from 20,000 in 2014 to over 50,000 this year. There are about 3,500 registered companies in the eco city with a total registered capital of 140 billion yuan (S$29 billion), according to a statement by the Ministry of National Development.