SINGAPORE - The long-awaited Hume station on the Downtown Line will be opened by 2025, Senior Minister of State for Transport Janil Puthucheary said on Thursday (March 7).
While the station was built as a "shell station" with the second phase of the Downtown Line, which opened in 2015, the pace of developments and ridership growth in the area did not warrant its opening at the time, he said during the parliamentary debate on the Transport Ministry's budget.
Since then, however, the Rail Corridor has been redeveloped. Also, it was announced in Parliament the previous day that the former Bukit Timah Fire Station is to be developed as a recreational node.
"With all these developments, there will be sufficient ridership to justify opening Hume Station," said Dr Janil, who is also the Senior Minister of State for Communications and Information.
"Likewise, further addition of new bus services in Bukit Gombak will depend on the pace of developments and ridership growth in the area," he added, in his reply to South West Mayor Low Yen Ling (Chua Chu Kang GRC).
Dr Janil noted the opening of the Hume MRT station was due to the efforts of people like Ms Low - who is also Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Education and Manpower - who has repeatedly appealed for the station in her district to be opened.
When she asked if the station could be ready before 2025, Dr Janil said work still had to be done to build the station, and added that the opening needs to also coincide with developments coming up in the area.
While rail remains the backbone of Singapore's public transport network, a balance has to be met between managing costs and benefiting the most number of people possible in deciding where to extend the rail network to, he added.
Nominated MP Arasu Duraisamy had asked if an MRT line could be extended to Tuas South to serve workers there. Such a line could run via Jurong Island to benefit workers there as well, he added.
Dr Janil said the Tuas South area is "still in the initial stages of development, and there is not enough ridership in the near to medium term to support an MRT line".
He, however, noted that bus connectivity has been improved in the area, with the introduction of two new bus services since 2017, when the Tuas West Extension of the East-West MRT line opened.
"As for Jurong Island, while there are no plans to extend the MRT onto the island itself, the future Jurong Pier Station - which is located only a short distance away from Jurong Island Checkpoint - will save time for workers once the JRL is completed in 2028," he said.
He added that the building of a station on Jurong Island was unlikely to make commuting more convenient for workers, as they would still have to go through the checkpoint and transfer to a last-mile shuttle to their workplaces, noting developments were spread out over the 32 sq km island.
Mr Arasu, however, noted that the Founders' Memorial station on the Thomson-East Coast line - expected to open in 2025 in tandem with a memorial to Singapore's founders - is being built at a cost of $242.4 million despite a lack of developments in the area.
Dr Janil replied that the expansion of the rail network is based on projected demand, and current projections for Tuas South do not justify the building of an extension, though this may change in the longer term.