The impending Cross Island Line (CRL) is a critical transport infrastructure that will vastly improve the quality of life for commuters who need to cross the island regularly, Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan said yesterday.
It will meet the needs of one million commuters, with many looking forward to its completion, he wrote in a Facebook post.
"It will interchange with almost all the other MRT lines and hence raise the network resilience.
"The CRL will also support the development of new hubs such as the Jurong Lake District and the new BTO estates in Sengkang, Punggol and Hougang," he said, referencing the HDB estates with Build-To-Order flats.
Plans to build the CRL, which will have more than 30 stations, were first announced in 2013.
It will be Singapore's eighth MRT line and is projected to have an initial daily ridership of 600,000, before increasing to a million in the future.
When completed, the 50km line will connect key employment areas such as Changi Logistics Park and Jurong Industrial Estate, to residential estates, including Pasir Ris, Ang Mo Kio and Clementi.
It will have the highest number of interchange stations, with almost half the stations on the line linked to existing rail stations.
The line will be built in three phases. The first phase of 29km is expected to start next year and be completed by 2029.
It will comprise 12 stations from Aviation Park to Bright Hill. This will serve residential and industrial areas such as Loyang, Tampines, Pasir Ris and Ang Mo Kio.
It is expected to benefit more than 100,000 households.
In addition, the Land Transport Authority has said common recreational spaces, such as Changi Beach Park and Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park, are to be accessible by public transport.
Transport economist Walter Theseira, of the Singapore University of Social Sciences, said a key benefit of the CRL would be shorter duration of existing trips.
"The way it is being constructed, it can provide a lot of connectivity to other lines," he told The Straits Times. "A lot of time savings will come from people transferring to other lines via CRL, as compared to overloading the older lines like the East-West Line."
The better connectivity would bring another benefit in the long run in terms of redundancy, added Associate Professor Theseira, who is also a Nominated MP.
A rail network with high redundancy can provide reasonable travel choices, such as transfers through connecting train lines, even if some parts of the network experience disruptions.
He said countries with higher levels of such redundancies can afford to shut down rail lines for days to carry out maintenance works, but this is a luxury Singapore cannot afford at the moment.
On building the CRL under the Central Catchment Nature Reserve, he said the fact that the Environmental Impact Assessment shows the environmental impact of direct alignment can be mitigated significantly made the decision a more straightforward one.
The key benefit would be the reduction in travel time by six minutes as opposed to a skirting option.
"The extra six minutes of travel time multiplied by hundreds of thousands of passengers daily, that is the real impact," he added.
"You can always make more money, but the country is unlikely to be able to give people more time."