SINGAPORE - The long-awaited second stage of the Thomson-East Coast MRT Line will start running on Aug 28.
Transport Minister S. Iswaran on Wednesday (June 30) said the new six-station stretch - connecting Springleaf, Lentor, Mayflower, Bright Hill, Upper Thomson and Caldecott stations - "would not have been possible without the hard work, adaptability and personal sacrifices of our technicians, engineers and ground staff".
Delayed in part by the Covid-19 pandemic, TEL2 will have two interchanges - Caldecott with the Circle Line and Bright Hill with the future Cross Island Line.
Mr Iswaran said the TEL will enhance the resilience of the rail network. When fully opened in the latter half of the decade, the TEL will interchange with five existing MRT lines (North-south, East-west, North-east, Circle and Downtown) as well as the Cross Island Line.
When TEL is fully completed, more than 240,000 current and future households will be within a 10-minute walk from a station along the line, he added.
TEL1 and TEL2 alone will benefit about 100,000 households, he said.
The first stage of the TEL - a three-station stretch from Woodlands North to Woodlands South - opened in January 2020.
Speaking at Caldecott station, Mr Iswaran pointed out that the station is located near the Singapore Association of the Visually Handicapped and Lighthouse School.
"To better support visually impaired commuters, TEL's lift buttons, platform seats and signs will have greater colour contrasts," he said.
Lighting will also be installed into the handrails of staircases, to enhance the visibility of the steps, he added.
For seniors and commuters with mobility difficulties, there will be backrests and handrails on seats at the station platform.
Mr Iswaran pointed out that TEL stations have more entrances to provide better connectivity.
For instance, Mayflower station has seven entrances linking to places such as Ang Mo Kio Ave 4, Mayflower Primary and Secondary schools and CHIJ St Nicholas; while Upper Thomson station has five near places such as Soo Chow estate, Thomson Plaza, and Church of the Holy Spirit.
The Land Transport Authority said construction of the TEL2 posed several engineering challenges.
For instance, no fewer than 15 traffic diversions had to be made for Mayflower station, and construction in parts was as close as 5m away from HDB blocks.
At Bright Hill station, because of site conditions, some 1,500 secant bored piles - a type of structure to prevent earth movement - were installed.
The LTA revealed that each pile, which goes into hard rock, could take more than a day to penetrate 10cm. Some of these piles were as close as 2m from HDB blocks.
Meanwhile, the Caldecott station saw the excavation of Singapore's largest mined tunnels. Each measured 13m high by 23m wide by 62m long. The excavation involved removing 160,000 cubic metres of rocks - enough to fill 64 Olympic-size swimming pools.
The 43km, 32-station TEL is expected to have an average ridership of 500,000 initially, rising to one million in the longer term. The line, which will run from Woodlands to Bedok, will also connect to the upcoming cross-border rapid transit line to Johor Baru.