SINGAPORE - Residents and workers in the north-western region of Singapore can save up to 30 minutes in their trips to the downtown area when the new Sungei Kadut interchange station is completed by mid-2030s.
The station, which will be built between Kranji and Yew Tee MRT stations on the North-South Line (NSL), will connect to the Downtown Line (DTL) via a track extension from Bukit Panjang MRT station.
Updates on the Thomson-East Coast Line (TEL) and Cross Island Line (CRL) were also announced on Saturday (May 25) as part of the Land Transport Master Plan 2040.
The plans are key cogs in the Land Transport Authority's (LTA) master plan to create a 45-minute city with 20-minute towns through the Walk-Cycle-Ride (WCR) modes of transport.
WCR incorporates active mobility options such as personal mobility devices and transport options such as MRTs and taxis.
A 20-minute town is one where all door-to-door journeys to the nearest neighbourhood centre using WCR modes can be completed within 20 minutes. In a 45-minute city, nine in 10 peak-period journeys using WCR modes can be completed within that time.
The LTA will seek to achieve these goals through reducing travel times and distances.
"Our goals of 20-minute towns and a 45-minute city by 2040 are ambitious, and would be impossible to achieve without making significant changes to the way we work," it said.
"We will accomplish these goals by enhancing our transport infrastructure to bring commuters more seamless connections, greater convenience and faster door-to-door travel."
Currently, commuters who want to switch from the NSL to DTL by train will have to alight at Choa Chu Kang station on NSL. They will have to change to the LRT line and take the light rail past five stations to reach Bukit Panjang on the DTL.
At the launch of the master plan on Saturday, Senior Minister of State for Transport Janil Puthucheary said: "The Brickland and Sungei Kadut stations are going to be part of that process of bringing our public transport system closer to people... the areas that they serve are going to have a lot more residential spaces."
The Sungei Kadut station will benefit residents in nearby towns such as Yew Tee and Choa Chu Kang. It will also serve upcoming industrial developments in Sungei Kadut by JTC Corporation and the 18ha Agri-Food Innovation Park, which will be ready in phases from the second quarter of 2021.
Further down the NSL, between Choa Chu Kang and Bukit Gombak stations, the new Brickland MRT station will make trains more accessible to residents in areas such as Keat Hong, Bukit Batok West and the Brickland district in Tengah town.
In the east, the TEL will be extended to provide a direct rail connection to Changi Airport by around 2040. It will pass through the future Terminal 5, and connect to the stretch between Tanah Merah and Changi Airport stations on the East-West Line.
The TEL will open later this year, starting with a three-station stretch from Woodlands South to Woodlands North. The remaining stations will be progressively opened by 2024.
Residents in parts of Woodlands could further benefit from rail improvement in the form of a proposed new rail line that aims to serve new and growing developments in the north and north-east regions. LTA will study the feasibility of a line that runs from Woodlands to the Greater Southern Waterfront, through areas such as Sembawang, Sengkang, Serangoon North, Whampoa and Kallang.
The line could benefit more than 400,000 households and save commuters up to 40 minutes when travelling to the city centre.
LTA said: "This could relieve congestion along the north-east corridor and strengthen the overall resilience of the MRT network.
"LTA's feasibility study will examine the demand, alignment, station locations and determine its implementation timeline."
The authority also announced plans to connect the Cross Island Line to the Punggol area by 2031. The CRL, Singapore's eighth MRT line, will connect Changi to Jurong when completed.
Projects to reduce travel distances that were previously announced include the creation of four regional employment centres that will bring jobs closer to home. They are the Woodlands Regional Centre, Punggol Digital District, Jurong Innovation District and Jurong Lake District.
LTA said these four key employment centres would be supported by future rail enhancements such as the TEL, the Jurong Region Line (JRL) and the NEL extension.
Transport economist Walter Theseira told The Straits Times that while the rail developments have their benefits, it should be recognised that new rail developments are unlikely to have as large an impact as major new lines in the past, such as the East-West Line.
"The backbone of our train system is already there. What we are doing now is filling gaps and correcting redundancies," he said.
"We are not likely to see the same kind of improvements for hundred thousands of people... because the most important lines have been built."