Direct MRT link to Changi Airport planned

A second train link to Changi Airport is on the cards. But this one could go straight to the airport.

Speaking at the Modern Railways conference at Mandarin Orchard hotel yesterday, Land Transport Authority director of rail services Melvyn Thong said there are plans to extend the upcoming Eastern Region Line (ERL) and link it to the airport's planned Terminal 4.

He did not give further details.

But The Straits Times understands that if plans for the extension go ahead, the ERL is likely to have a direct link to Terminal 4, which is set to be ready by 2017.

Currently, commuters taking the MRT to the airport have to board a shuttle train at Tanah Merah on the East-West Line.

National University of Singapore transport researcher Lee Der Horng said a direct link to the airport could make the ERL the preferred alternative to get to Changi from the city.

Chief executive officer of engineering firm KTC Group Rajan Krishnan also applauded the move. The former Land Transport Authority director of projects noted that unlike Hong Kong or Kuala Lumpur, Singapore has no high-speed express train service to the airport. "Having another link improves accessibility," he said.

He explained that the line would provide excess capacity and cater to the rise in passenger traffic at the airport. Travellers could use the ERL and reduce the load on the East-West Line in the future, he added.

The fully underground ERL will start from Marina Bay, where it is linked to the Thomson Line. It will run through residential estates near Singapore's eastern shore, including Marine Parade, Tanjong Rhu, Siglap, Bedok South and Upper East Coast.

First announced in the 2008 Land Transport Masterplan, the ERL is scheduled to be completed by 2020. However, observers say the line is unlikely to be ready by then as the Thomson Line will be fully operational only in 2021.

Mr Thong yesterday also shared details of a new mega- depot that will be built at the eastern end of the ERL. This integrated development, which he said was likely to be the first of its kind in the world, will house a bus depot and train depots for the ERL, East-West Line and Downtown Line.

The development, which is expected to include an elevated depot, one at surface level and one underground, would be able to house 188 trains and 550 buses.

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