The 24-station Jurong Region Line (JRL) will open from 2026, ramping up transport connectivity in Jurong, as it is transformed into a home for new towns, a second Central Business District (CBD) and an innovation district.
The 24km above-ground line will also serve residents in the Choa Chu Kang, Boon Lay and future Tengah estates, boosting accessibility to schools, industrial areas and the Nanyang Technological University (NTU).
The medium-capacity JRL will use smaller train cars, which can carry between 150 and 200 commuters, compared with cars on other MRT lines, which have a capacity of more than 200. While JRL trains will have three cars each, a fourth car can be coupled to increase capacity.
Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan, who unveiled the JRL's alignment yesterday, said the line "marks a quantum leap" in the development of Jurong's transport infrastructure.
During a visit to the site of the North-South Line's future Canberra station, Mr Khaw said in a speech that the JRL will improve the resilience of the entire MRT network.
He said the JRL's two interchange stations at Choa Chu Kang (North-South Line) and Boon Lay (East-West Line) will offer commuters alternative travel routes, redistributing and relieving train loading between Choa Chu Kang and Jurong East stations. The JRL has a third interchange station at Jurong East, which links to the East-West and North-South lines.
A commuter going from Choa Chu Kang to NTU will have a shorter journey of 35 minutes with the JRL, saving 25 minutes.
The JRL system is designed with a headway, or train interval, of 90 seconds. The authorities plan to run the trains at intervals of between two and three minutes at the start. There will be two services - an eastern and a western route.
The JRL, Mr Khaw said, will go towards achieving the Government's vision for Jurong. It will help develop Jurong Lake District into the largest commercial hub outside the CBD and support the development of the future Jurong Innovation District. When these are fully developed, the JRL is expected to carry more than 500,000 commuters daily.
The JRL's opening also dovetails with the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High Speed Rail in Jurong, which is targeted to be ready by 2026.
Construction for the JRL is expected to start early next year.
The first phase, to open in 2026, will be the JRL (West) segment comprising 10 stations linking Choa Chu Kang to Boon Lay and Tawas. The second phase, to open in 2027, will be the JRL (East) segment with seven stations, providing connectivity between Tengah and Pandan Reservoir. The final phase in 2028 will see the line extending farther into the west to NTU and Jurong Pier in the south.
Yesterday, Mr Khaw also said that Canberra station - between Yishun and Sembawang - will open by December next year.
Asked about the JRL's unique alignment, National University of Singapore transport researcher Lee Der-Horng said it is designed to match the demand in the built-up areas and the future earmarked developments. Costs are likely the reason why the line is not being built underground, he said.
"It is good to have the flexibility to expand the capacity from three to four cars. It is a reflection of the future ridership growth," he added.