Govt to assume revenue risk for upcoming Thomson-East Coast Line

Minister for Transport Khaw Boon Wan (second from left) looking at the model of the Marine Parade MRT Station during the ground breaking ceremony of the Thomson-East Coast Line on July 21, 2016. ST PHOTO: AZIZ HUSSIN

SINGAPORE - The operator of the upcoming Thomson-East Coast MRT line (TEL) will be the first to run a rail service similar to the government bus contracting model.

That is, a successful bidder will operate the line for a fixed sum over a fixed period, while the Government collects fare revenue.

The Land Transport Authority announced this on Friday (Nov 4), saying that the TEL was a "most complex rail project to date" and that a tender under the new rail financing framework might result in bids which are "unfavourable to the Government".

It pointed out that the line is built along with "multiple other projects".

"On its northern end, it will have an interchange with the future Johor Bahru-Singapore Rapid Transit System Link. On its eastern end, feasibility studies are ongoing for a connection with the future Changi Airport Terminal 5 and the existing Changi Airport MRT station," it said.

It added that the line will open in five stages over several years, and projection of ridership in the initial years will be "much more uncertain and challenging than earlier train lines".

In this tender, only incumbent rail operators SMRT and SBS Transit will be invited to take part.

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