New $18 billion Thomson Line ready by 2019

It will have 22 stations - four more than originally planned

The new Thomson Line, which will connect neighbourhoods in the north to the city, will have more stations, cover more ground and use longer trains.

When completed, Singapore's sixth rail project will have 22 stations spanning 30km - four stations and 3km longer than originally planned in 2008.

The fully underground, driverless system will also use a four-car system instead of a three-car system to meet greater demand in the long term.

These changes will, however, delay the start of the $18 billion line by a year to 2019.

When fully operational, residents in estates like Sembawang, Nee Soon and Ang Mo Kio will be able to connect to all existing rail lines at six interchanges located at the Orchard, Woodlands, Caldecott, Marina Bay, Outram Park, and Stevens MRT stations.

It will also link with the future Eastern Region Line, due for completion in 2020.

The Thomson Line will open in three stages, starting with the three northernmost stations in Woodlands. The next six, from Springleaf to Caldecott, will open in 2020, followed by the last 13, from Mount Pleasant to Gardens by the Bay, in 2021.

Unveiling these details on Thursday, Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew said that an estimated 400,000 commuters will ride the Thomson Line daily.

Many of them will be among the 160,000 households that will be located within 800m of a Thomson Line station, putting it at a 10 to 12 minute walk away.

These commuters are expected to be able to shorten commuting time by up to 50 per cent.

A ride from Sin Ming to Republic Polytechnic in Woodlands, for example, will take only 25 minutes, instead of 50 minutes now.

Travelling from the private landed housing estate of Springleaf to the Great World City shopping mall will take 25 minutes instead of 35 minutes.

A total of 13,000 sq m will be acquired by the Government to build the line. Four properties - Pearls Centre in Eu Tong Sen Street, the Upper Thomson post office, and two bungalows near Stevens Road - will be fully acquired. Five partial plots will also be acquired including the frontage of Singapore Chinese Girls' School in Dunearn Road.

The Singapore Land Authority did not specify how much these plots would cost the Government but described the compensation sum as "hundreds of millions".

MPs said on Thursday the Thomson Line will be a welcome addition for many residents in the north who currently have difficulty accessing the rail network.

MP for Nee Soon GRC Lee Bee Wah said residents in the Springleaf estate have to take two buses to get to the nearest Khatib MRT.

"With more public transport options, this will hopefully relieve residents of their need to have a car and reduce the flow of traffic in the area," added Minister of State (Transport) Josephine Teo. She is also an MP for Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC, where the new Sin Ming station is located.

Transport researcher Lee Der Horng agreed that with many of the new stations located within private estates, some car owners could now opt for public transport instead.

"The Thomson Line will fill in the gaps in the northern areas where stations are now near but just not near enough," he said.

mariaa@sph.com.sg

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