SINGAPORE - By 2031, Punggol and Pasir Ris residents will get better MRT connectivity with the addition of four more train stations that will link up the eastern and north-eastern parts of Singapore.
The 7.3km extension to the future Cross Island Line (CRL) will act as a shuttle service to supplement the buses that currently ply routes between both towns.
Thanks to the new extension, commuters can expect to save up to 25 minutes when they travel from Punggol Central to Pasir Ris, down from the 40 to 45 minutes it currently takes, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) said on Tuesday (March 10).
Some 40,000 existing households will benefit from the CRL-Punggol extension.
Construction of the underground Punggol, Riviera, Elias and Pasir Ris stations on the extension will begin in 2022 and they are expected to be opened by 2031.
The extension is expected to redistribute the travel load across the rail network and also provide alternate travel routes for commuters.
Three of the four stations - Punggol, Riviera and Pasir Ris - will be interchanges built into existing stations that will eventually link up the North East Line (NEL), the Punggol LRT and the main branch of the CRL, the first phase of which is expected to be completed by 2029.
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.
The trains on the Punggol extension will have six cars that can expand to eight when demand rises, similar to those on the main CRL. Ridership on the entire CRL is expected to rise from 600,000 initially to one million in the future.
The LTA said that it had consulted the Housing Board, Urban Redevelopment Authority and JTC Corporation to determine the feasibility of these new stations.
Speaking to the media on Tuesday 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 the families in Punggol access to other parts of Singapore as well as workplaces in Changi.
"We also hope for some of the Pasir Ris residents to come and work in the Punggol Digital District (PDD)," said Dr Janil, who is also 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 also said that the future Punggol extension will benefit young people and those working in the future PDD.
Situated within Punggol North, the PDD will be a mixed-use business district that will integrate with the new Singapore Institute of Technology campus.
When it opens progressively from 2023, the PDD will cover 50ha and support some 28,000 digital economy jobs, including positions in artificial intelligence companies and cyber security.
In the same year, the future Punggol Coast station, a 1.6km extension of the NEL, will also boost rail links to the Punggol North area.
The station, the 17th on the NEL, will be built by JTC and be integrated with JTC's business park in the PDD. It will also support new residential estates at Northshore District and Punggol Point District.
According to the LTA, tunnelling work for the southbound tunnels has been completed, while 15 per cent of the tunnelling work for the northbound tunnels has also been done.