SINGAPORE - A stretch of Bukit Timah not currently serviced by the MRT will see its long empty MRT station fitted out and one step closer to being operational by 2025, after the Land Transport Authority (LTA) tasked JSM Construction Group to work on it for $34.3 million on Thursday (Jan 14).
Hume MRT station, the last station in the second stretch of the Downtown Line yet to open, already has a shell structure constructed since 2015.
But contracts to fit it out had not been given out with the Government saying that developments in the area and ridership growth did not yet warrant the station opening.
Hopes were raised before the General Election last year that works would begin in the fourth quarter of 2020. The LTA said the delay to a later date this year was due to the coronavirus impacting the approval process by the relevant agencies.
Thursday’s announcement means JSM Construction Group will now begin building the station entrance and the ventilation shaft, and carry out other hardware works.
When Hume MRT station becomes operational, it will serve more than 20,000 residents in the area between Hillview and Beauty World MRT stations.
Mr Andrew Sim, 45, who lives in a condominium in Hume, said: “We have said we wanted this for a long time, but works have always been on and off.
“This is of course good news, but I don’t want to count my chickens until they are hatched. It is only fair our neighbourhood is as well connected as the other neighbouring areas.”
There are numerous big condominiums in the Hume area, including Hume Park 1, Hume Park 2, Parc Palais, The Hillside and Hillview 128.
At present, residents have to take a bus to nearby train stations or walk to them. The LTA said the Hume MRT station will save residents about 15 minutes of travel time to town areas and the Botanic Gardens.
It will also provide more convenient access to less connected attractions such as the Rail Corridor and the Former Ford Factory, now a museum on the Japanese Occupation of Singapore.
A worker at the Former Ford Factory said the site will likely start seeing more visitors after the Hume MRT station opens, since it has been relatively out of the way compared to better-known museums like the National Gallery and the National Museum.
The first stretch of the Downtown Line, operated by SBS Transit, was opened in 2013.
Residents had then been perplexed that Hume was left out of the plan. Choa Chu Kang GRC MP Low Yen Ling repeatedly appealed for the station in her district to be opened.
Ms Low said on Thursday that the award of the contract was “a significant milestone” for Bukit Gombak, Hillview and Hume residents, after hard lobbying works since 2012.
She said she will chair monthly meetings to keep track of the progress and to ensure work proceeds smoothly.
“Today’s news is a sweet reward and a huge step closer to bringing the trains into Hume,” she said.
But some residents are more impatient. A 24-year-old data analyst, who declined to be named, said she and other residents had written to the authorities over the years to ask why the project was delayed when residents would be much better served by an MRT station.
She said: “There’s a sense of disappointment. Five years does not make sense when the station has already been built and retrofitting would take way less time than that.”
More contracts for Hume station are to be awarded.
LTA said the contract for electrical and mechanical services will be awarded later this quarter. Rail systems will be procured from among incumbent contractors who had supplied the rest of the Downtown Line.