Commuters take full-day closure of Changi Airport MRT station in their stride

LTA and SMRT staff directing members of the public at Changi Airport Terminal 2 to the shuttle bus service at Terminal 3.
LTA and SMRT staff directing members of the public at Changi Airport Terminal 2 to the shuttle bus service at Terminal 3.ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG
Travellers looking to get to other parts of Singapore from Changi Airport MRT station were directed by SMRT staff, volunteers from the Land Transport Authority and officers clad in yellow Changi Airport vests to the shuttle bus bay at Terminal 3 inst
Travellers looking to get to other parts of Singapore from Changi Airport MRT station were directed by SMRT staff, volunteers from the Land Transport Authority and officers clad in yellow Changi Airport vests to the shuttle bus bay at Terminal 3 instead.ST PHOTO: AUDREY TAN

SINGAPORE - It was business as usual at Changi Airport MRT station during lunchtime on Sunday (Jan 21), despite the full-day closure of the station due to maintenance works by operator SMRT.

Travellers looking to get to other parts of Singapore were directed by SMRT staff, volunteers from the Land Transport Authority (LTA) and officers clad in yellow Changi Airport vests to the shuttle bus bay at Terminal 3 instead.

There, people could pay $1 to hop onto an express bus leaving for Bugis MRT station every 15 to 20 minutes, or board a shuttle bound for Tanah Merah and Expo MRT stations that departed every three to five minutes.

There was no train service on Sunday between Changi Airport and Aljunied stations on the East-West Line, which is operated by SMRT. The operator had been beleaguered by a spate of recent train breakdowns, and closures have been planned to facilitate works.

This month, some stations on the East-West Line will have shorter operating hours on weekends, including full-day closures on two Sundays - Jan 21 and 28.

This is the second round of planned closures to facilitate rail maintenance and upgrading works. Last month, 17 stations on the western part of the East-West Line and two North-South Line stations also had shorter weekend operating hours and full-day closures on two Sundays.

When The Straits Times visited the airport at about 12.30pm, queues for the buses were short, and passengers appeared calm despite the inconvenience.

Officers from LTA and SMRT were also on standby at the closed Changi Airport station, and seemed to be providing adequate guidance for passengers.

Some of the staff held maps of Singapore's train network to explain the closure to tourists.

One of the passengers affected by the station's closure on Sunday was Malaysian Karen Lai, 60, who flew in from Kuala Lumpur to Singapore to visit her children.

"I was quite surprised by the closure, because I actually told my kids not to pick me up and that I would just take the train," said Madam Lai, a housewife.

"Luckily this is Singapore, where people can speak both English and Mandarin, and the staff were quite helpful. So it was not too bad. I will be taking a taxi to Eunos instead."

 
 

Another affected passenger was Miss Mary Ling, 26, who had just returned to Singapore from a holiday in Phuket.

But the clerk was unperturbed by the closure, saying it was no inconvenience at all. "I'll just take the shuttle bus to Bugis," said Miss Ling.

Mr Axel Pahne, 23, arrived in Singapore from Krabi on Sunday and was headed to Chinatown. “The staff told me to take a shuttle bus to Bugis, and hop on a train to Chinatown from there instead,” said Mr Pahne, an exchange student from Sweden studying at the Nanyang Technological University. 

“It’ll probably take me about 15 to 20 minutes longer to get to my destination but it’s okay, I have nothing to do today anyway.” He heads home to Sweden on Monday. 

IT professional Karthikeyan Somu, 34, who arrived in Singapore on Sunday from Chennai for a business trip, is also glad that the station closure took place on a Sunday instead of a weekday. 

“It is troublesome to lug the luggage around, but the staff were helpful,” said Mr Karthikeyan, who was heading to a hotel in Bugis.