Residents look forward to better connectivity

The announcement of the new Jurong Region Line (JRL), which will serve residents in Choa Chu Kang, Boon Lay, Jurong and the future Tengah development, is a long-awaited one for many.

"I was starting to feel like we were forgotten," said Ms Kang Zi Xin, a 21-year-old student who lives at Block 920 in Jurong West, a short distance away from the future Nanyang Gateway MRT station.

It currently takes the Republic Polytechnic student 90 minutes to get to her school in Woodlands.

The JRL is expected to serve more than 200,000 commuters in its initial years. The 24km line will also connect upcoming areas such as the Jurong Innovation District.

Nanyang Technological University's (NTU) president, Professor Subra Suresh, told The Straits Times: "This is certainly a welcome development for students, employees, alumni and visitors. The new MRT line will play an important role in Singapore's vision for Jurong, including the development of the Jurong Innovation District, in which NTU will be a key player."

The sentiment among residents in these areas is that getting around Singapore will be made a lot easier.

Many often have to take long bus rides to the closest MRT stations.

Ms Seah Lay Khim, 59, who lives in Choa Chu Kang West, often has to wait 20 minutes for her bus to Choa Chu Kang MRT station. "There are just too few buses in this area," the retiree said. "Just getting to the Choa Chu Kang station can take up to half an hour."

West Coast GRC MP Foo Mee Har said the Pandan Reservoir station will benefit residents in her Ayer Rajah ward. "We will just be a hop, or two stations away, from Jurong East," she said. "They can connect to the North-South Line and East-West Line, as well as use the JRL to connect to the Jurong West industrial area and Jurong Island."

As parts of the JRL will extend into existing residential areas, Jurong GRC MP Ang Wei Neng hopes that barriers will be erected at construction sites to keep noise to a bearable level.

"Sound barriers should also be erected on the MRT viaducts to minimise the noise from trains passing by, right from the start," Mr Ang added.

The building of the JRL will involve the acquisition of 24,000 sq m of land.

This will include a Housing Board multistorey carpark with shops in Choa Chu Kang Avenue 4. The site can be used until Nov 29 next year.

The row of shops on the ground floor of the carpark is popular with residents in the area.

"I know the older folk who visit this place will be really sad when it is gone," said Mr Alex Chua, 21, who works at the Offer and Save Department Store there.

"A lot of them gather at the foodcourt to chat. Some even travel from Yew Tee to meet their friends here."

Ms Shan Yoke Yin, 55, who has worked at one of the stores - O Bread 2 - for almost eight years, said it will be "a pity" when the land is acquired.

"I have become such good friends with my regular customers and the other shop owners here," she said.

Another 19 plots of land will also need to be taken over, but these will be partial acquisitions which affect only ancillary features such as green verges, boundary walls and fencing.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 10, 2018, with the headline 'Residents look forward to better connectivity'. Print Edition | Subscribe