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Rail Corridor can be a more inclusive community space

Steel truss bridge along the rail corridor.
Steel truss bridge along the rail corridor. PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

We conducted four years of extensive public consultations before embarking on the recent round of request for concept design proposals for the Rail Corridor ("Keep rustic feel of Rail Corridor"; last Sunday).

One recurrent theme that cropped up in the consultations is to make the Rail Corridor a more inclusive community space for people from all walks of life, while retaining its signature experience.

At 24km long, the Rail Corridor can take on differentiated characters along its route to serve the needs of the community, and be a continuous trail that links nature and heritage.

There can be a few activity nodes interspersed along the route that are complementary to the surroundings and cater to the needs of nearby communities. Nodes that are adjacent to homes and workplaces, such as in the Buona Vista and one-north areas, can take on a more urban character.

Other stretches, such as near the conserved Bukit Timah Railway Station, can remain more natural. To strengthen the "green corridor" experience, we will be working with the design teams and agencies on an appropriate natural landscape and planting strategy to regenerate the vegetation and enhance biodiversity along selected stretches of the Corridor.

The Rail Corridor's railway heritage will be strengthened. The design teams have recommended suitable new uses for the former railway stations to encourage more people to visit and learn about these historical landmarks. Other ideas include new way-finding signs and basic amenities reminiscent of former railway artefacts and platforms.

We will work with the design teams and community to consider other ways to further heighten the sense of memory and heritage of the Rail Corridor.

We will also need to consider suitable materials to improve the trail so that it will not be easily rutted and damaged as a result of wet weather or excessive use. The choice of material and design will be consistent with the character of the Corridor. An improved and safer trail with basic amenities will allow people of all ages and abilities to access the Rail Corridor and enjoy what it offers.

The exhibited plans are not final, and we welcome the public to provide their comments on the proposals. We hope to continue working closely with the community to make the Rail Corridor a unique community space that is inclusive to all.

Tan See Nin

Senior Director, Physical Planning

Urban Redevelopment Authority

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on November 22, 2015, with the headline 'Rail Corridor can be a more inclusive community space'. Print Edition | Subscribe