An MRT extension with four more stations will be added to the Cross Island Line (CRL) by 2031. This will give residents in Punggol and Pasir Ris a direct link to the eastern and north-eastern parts of Singapore.
The 7.3km extension to the future CRL will join the existing Punggol station on the North East Line (NEL) to Pasir Ris station, and supplement bus services that currently ply between both towns.
Travelling from Punggol Central to Pasir Ris via the MRT extension will take 15 to 20 minutes, down from the current journey time of 40 to 45 minutes by bus, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) said yesterday.
Some 40,000 existing households will benefit from the CRL extension, which will be fully underground.
Construction of the four stations - Punggol, Riviera, Elias and Pasir Ris - will begin in 2022.
The extension is expected to redistribute the travel load across the rail network, and also provide alternative travel routes for commuters.
Punggol and Pasir Ris will be interchange stations - the former with the NEL, and the latter with the East-West Line as well as the main branch of the CRL, the first phase of which is expected to be completed by 2029.
The Riviera interchange station will link the CRL with the eastern loop of the Punggol LRT.
Elias station, meanwhile, will be located near the residential blocks of Pasir Ris Drive 3, industrial developments at Pasir Ris Drive 12 and Elias Mall.
Like the main CRL, the trains plying the extension to Punggol will have six cars that can expand to eight when demand rises.
Ridership on the entire CRL is expected to rise from 600,000 initially to one million in the future.
Speaking to reporters yesterday at the NEL extension project site office in Sentul Crescent, Senior Minister of State for Transport Janil Puthucheary said the extension is an important part of the MRT infrastructure as it will give families in Punggol access to other parts of Singapore and to workplaces in Changi.
"We also hope for some of the Pasir Ris residents to come and work in the Punggol Digital District," said Dr Janil, who is an MP for Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC.
Expanding the train network, which forms an important part of the backbone of Singapore's public transport system, is "part of the car-lite society that we want, going forward", he added.
Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Home Affairs and National Development Sun Xueling said the future extension will benefit young people and those working in the upcoming Punggol Digital District.
Situated within Punggol North, the district will be a mixed-use business precinct that will be integrated with the new Singapore Institute of Technology campus.
When it opens progressively from 2023, the digital district will span 50ha and is expected to support some 28,000 digital economy jobs, including roles in artificial intelligence and cyber security.
The future Punggol Coast station, a 1.6km extension of the NEL, will also open in 2023 and provide rail access to Punggol North.
The station, the 17th on the NEL, will be integrated with JTC Corporation's business park in the digital district. It will also support new residential estates at Northshore District and Punggol Point District.
The LTA said tunnelling work for the southbound tunnels has been completed, while 15 per cent of the tunnelling work for the northbound tunnels has been done.
Graphic designer S.H. Tan, 30, said he was happy that the future Elias station was being built near his flat, which is in Pasir Ris Street 71.
He noted that he does not have easy access to public transport amenities like train stations from his home, which is located near the Tampines Expressway.
He does have a direct bus to Punggol, but welcomed the shorter travelling times by train in future. "It's great to have extra public transport choices. Hopefully, the construction work doesn't cause too much congestion in the area," he said.