SINGAPORE - The upcoming Punggol Coast MRT station will be ready by 2024, with about 40 per cent of construction work completed.
Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung gave this update on Friday (Nov 13), at a ceremony to mark the completion of tunnel boring works from the existing Punggol station to the future Punggol Coast station.
The new station had initially been slated for completion in 2023 but has been delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The project is a 1.6km extension of the North East Line.
Mr Ong, in his speech, said the MRT station was an essential component of the development.
He said: "There is no point building a new district that people cannot get to. Just look at places like Tokyo Station in Japan, Piccadilly Circus Station in London and Grand Central Station in New York. They are synonymous with the vibrant and prosperous districts that they serve.
"I hope the upcoming station will become synonymous with the good jobs, quality education and smart lifestyle that Punggol Digital District brings."
Punggol Coast MRT station is expected to be used by more than 75,000 employees of the new business park, students and residents in the area.
It is part of the Government's plan to expand the rail network from around 230km today to 360km by the early 2030s, and to bring eight in 10 households within a 10-minute walk of a train station.
The business park in Punggol, being developed by JTC Corporation, will offer more than 28,000 new jobs in infocomm technology fields such as cyber security and data science.
The tunnelling works were completed using two tunnel boring machines, each fitted with sensors to monitor the progress in real time, to ensure precision and minimise disturbance to the surrounding infrastructure.
Mr Ong also touched on the importance of seizing the opportunity afforded by the pandemic to change commuters' travel habits.
He noted that the pandemic has reduced passenger volume, which is currently about 70 per cent that of pre-Covid-19 levels.
"If employers can help adjust work hour requirements, allow workers to toggle between working from home and office, our travel habits will evolve. This would be an outcome that we have been yearning for for decades," he said.
"The old habits - rushing during morning and peak hours every day - are neither logical, comfortable, efficient nor environmentally friendly."
Mr Ong noted that the MRT system is designed to accommodate peak period crowds, and the system becomes underutilised during off-peak hours.
"If we can just spread out commuter traffic throughout the day, everyone will have a more comfortable ride, and yet have the system serve more people," he said.
"If and when travel volume recovers, and everyone travels during the same rush hour again, then we would have wasted the crisis."