New Downtown Line station takes shape

Construction work just outside Hume Park 1 condo in Upper Bukit Timah Road.
Construction work just outside Hume Park 1 condo in Upper Bukit Timah Road.ST PHOTO: DESMOND FOO

Residents hoping that Hume station will open soon despite LTA's denial

Ongoing works at a Downtown Line 2 site in Upper Bukit Timah Road have sparked speculation that a station will open there soon.

Work at the junction of Upper Bukit Timah Road and Hume Avenue has continued - and intensified - even after the new MRT line started operating 16 months ago.

Recent on-site checks by The Straits Times revealed surface structures taking shape.

Sources said Korean builder SKEC, which clinched the contract in 2009 to build the MRT tunnels in the vicinity, was asked by the Land Transport Authority some time in 2014 to build the station. SKEC was unavailable for comments.

The LTA denied that it was building a station, saying it was merely building a station box - an underground structure that lays the foundation for a future station.

An LTA spokesman said: "The existing developments in the area are not sufficient to justify the opening of the station."

Industry watchers, however, said a station box would have been completed along with the entire Downtown Line 2 in 2015.

Transport consultant Bruno Wildermuth, a pioneer MRT engineer, said: "I would assume it's a complete station as it would be difficult later on to go back and build it."

Engineering blogger Nethaniel Foo, who has been tracking the development of the Downtown Line closely, said: "It looks like they are now building the entrances and exits to the station."

He noted that Upper Bukit Timah Road had been diverted a number of times since 2014 to facilitate the expanded works, such as driving new sheet piles into the ground to enable workers to build surface structures on the station box.

Residents in the area have been clamouring for the station to be opened.

Freelance IT trainer Paul Pang, 68, said: "This station should have been completed along with the rest of the line. There are around 20,000 people living in some 10 developments here.

"I think there would be more ridership here than at stations such as Sixth Avenue and Cashew. How did they justify opening those two stations and not Hume?"

Mr Pang, a Hume Park 2 resident, said it was not right to gauge the commercial viability of individual stations.

He said: "You have to base it on the whole line. The Government is encouraging people to drive less. If this station is open, I'm sure people living here will drive less."

Undergraduate Varun Naidu, 24, a resident of Parc Palais, said: "It is a meaninglessly delayed project... We have to be careful when driving from Upper Bukit Timah Road and Hume Avenue.

"The left turn from Upper Bukit Timah to Hume Avenue, and the right turn to Upper Bukit Timah Road citybound are sharp.

"Also, there is a blind spot when waiting for the bus to come at Upper Bukit Timah Road, unlike previously, when the buses could be seen from far away."

Mr Pang noted that residents were initially told the works would be done by the first quarter of last year.

But it has been delayed several times, with the LTA now saying it would be completed by the middle of this year.

"If they're not going to open it (the station), finish up the work and reinstate the road. It's not fair to residents nor the public," he said.

MP Low Yen Ling has made repeated pleas to have the Hume station opened but the Government has insisted that developments there did not warrant a station, and that residents could take a bus to the next nearest station.

"There is potential to encourage more car-light behaviour in our community," Ms Low said yesterday, adding that a Hume station would enhance accessibility to the Rail Corridor development nearby.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 19, 2017, with the headline 'New Downtown Line station takes shape'. Print Edition | Subscribe