Cross Island Line phase 2: Excitement about new rail option but concerns linger over details, impact

CRL phase two will provide greater public transport access to areas in the west, said Transport Minister S. Iswaran. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Residents and businesses close to phase two of the Cross Island Line (CRL) are glad to have a new transport option in the future, but have concerns about issues such as the location of the new stations and construction-related traffic jams.

Even though it will be ready only 10 years from now, Mr Mark Yeow is among those who are looking forward to the opening of the six stations along the 15km stretch of rail in 2032.

The West Coast resident, 32, lamented about the relative lack of public transport connectivity near his home in Clementi West Street 2.

The marketing consultant, who uses the bus, train and car-sharing services, recounted one evening in March when a 15-minute journey from Commonwealth took him almost an hour as he could not find a vehicle or a direct public transport route.

He eventually got home via a combination of train and bus.

Plans for CRL phase two were announced on Tuesday by Transport Minister S. Iswaran. He said it will provide greater public transport access to areas in the west, such as West Coast, and improve connectivity between the eastern, western and north-eastern parts of Singapore.

This rail section includes interchanges with the Downtown Line at King Albert Park and the East-West Line at Clementi station.

The other four stations are Turf City, Maju, West Coast and Jurong Lake District.

Construction of CRL phase two is expected to start in 2023. Once completed, it will benefit 40,000 households within 800m of the six stations.

Mr James Kong, another West Coast resident, said 10 years is a long time for him to wait for a new MRT station.

But the 72-year-old retiree expects his grandchildren, who live with him, to reap the benefits as it will be easier for them to get to school.

The upcoming Maju station will serve three tertiary institutions currently without rail access: SIM Global Education, Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS) and Ngee Ann Polytechnic.

Associate Professor Lim Lee Ching, dean of the S R Nathan School of Human Development at SUSS, said having an MRT station right next to the school will improve accessibility for both staff and students.

It could also relieve traffic congestion in the area, Prof Lim added, noting that a large majority of SUSS and SIM students take evening classes and some teachers let students off early or stagger dismissal times so they can beat the traffic jam outside the school.

The upcoming Maju station will serve three tertiary institutions currently without rail access, including SUSS. ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG

The reaction to CRL phase two was more mixed among residents in Sunset Way and Clementi Street 13, which are a five- to 10-minute walk from the future Maju station.

Ms Alicia Ong, who runs a convenience store at Block 118 Clementi Street 13, said she is unlikely to use the CRL to get to work as she has a direct bus from her home near Teban Gardens. She added: "From Maju station, I will still need to walk. So it depends on whether there will be a covered walkway."

Ms Ong, who is her late 40s, also noted that there are currently no amenities such as shops or eateries near Maju station.

So, if it stays that way in 2032, there will be little reason for residents to walk there to take the MRT when taking a bus may be more convenient as it is closer to home.

Remote video URL

Ms Grace Tang, 40, who moved from West Coast to Clementi Street 13 about a year ago, said CRL phase two will help to reduce her family's travel time as they still frequent the West Coast area.

Asked if she was worried about potential inconveniences or noise from the construction, the civil servant said: "We will bear with whatever comes... Having an MRT station here will beat having none at all."

Shops close to CRL phase two are hopeful that the line will bring in more patrons.

Mr Alfred Chan, 58, who owns Fredo's Baker in Sunset Way, said Tuesday's news was a pleasant surprise as he had always hoped for an MRT station near his shop.

However, he was concerned that with the new rail line, there may be a desire to redevelop the area, which could in turn force him to move out.

"We are worried that in future if they are going to tear anything down, it will affect all the eateries here. It is not easy to build up these relationships," Mr Chan said.

In West Coast, a shopkeeper, who declined to be named, said he is worried that his rent will go up once the new CRL station is opened. Another concern is that construction of the CRL will make traffic jams there worse.

West Coast Drive, where his shop is located, is narrow and gets jammed up with vehicles, especially during dismissal time for the school nearby, he said.

Remote video URL

Meanwhile, property prices near the CRL phase two stations could also go up, some real estate analysts have said.

Huttons Asia's senior director for research Lee Sze Teck foresees a price increase of up to 3 per cent for properties in King Albert Park, Clementi and West Coast in the near term.

Property prices in these areas could increase further, by up to 5 per cent, when the stations are completed, he said, adding that the projections are based on a study of the opening of Downtown Line 2 in 2015 and its effect on property values.

ERA Realty's head of research and consultancy Nicholas Mak was less bullish.

While owners may try to capitalise on the news to raise their asking prices, buyers are also aware they will enjoy the benefits only 10 years later, Mr Mak said.

"Prices will be subjected to market forces for the next 10 years, until the stations are open. They cannot be rising continuously. That's unrealistic," he added.

Join ST's WhatsApp Channel and get the latest news and must-reads.