Debate on ministries' budgets

Station to be converted into testing ground for new trains

LTA said the average daily ridership for the Bukit Panjang LRT is about 68,000. Out of this, only about 200 passengers - or 0.3 per cent of the total ridership - board or alight at Ten Mile Junction station.
LTA said the average daily ridership for the Bukit Panjang LRT is about 68,000. Out of this, only about 200 passengers - or 0.3 per cent of the total ridership - board or alight at Ten Mile Junction station.ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

The Bukit Panjang LRT's Ten Mile Junction station will be permanently closed from the fourth quarter of this year to make space during the $334 million upgrading project for the line.

Due to the low utilisation of the station, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) said that the station space will be converted into a stabling and testing ground for the LRT's 19 new replacement trains.

LTA said the average daily ridership for the Bukit Panjang LRT is about 68,000. Out of this, only about 200 passengers, or 0.3 per cent of the total ridership, board or alight at Ten Mile Junction station.

The station is integrated with the Junction 10 mall, and the closure means LRT commuters will have to stop at the nearby Bukit Panjang or Phoenix LRT stations - both within a 10-minute walk to the shopping centre.

Ms Eleora Cen, 21, an undergraduate who lives in Choa Chu Kang, said: "If it is raining, I would be less inclined to go (to the mall) as the route from Phoenix or Bukit Panjang LRT stations is not sheltered."

Other residents were concerned for the elderly in the area.

  • Plagued by problems

  • • February 1999: The Bukit Panjang LRT (BPLRT) system, built at a cost of $285 million, opens.

    • November 2000: An operations officer's failure to follow safety rules causes two trains to collide at Choa Chu Kang, injuring three passengers.

    • October 2002: A wheel on an LRT train falls off, badly damaging a section of rail. The system is down for five days.

    • October 2010: An LRT technician dies of injuries sustained after being hit by a train at Phoenix Station. He was checking the power rail between Phoenix and Bukit Panjang stations when the accident happened.

    • 2015: There are 10 major breakdowns of longer than 30 minutes, twice the number on the island's other LRT systems, the Sengkang and Punggol lines. These include an electrical fire in March, which forces the line to shut down for 24 hours. In April, a dislodged current collector shoe results in a 11/2-hour disruption, affecting 10,000 commuters.

    • January 2016: A train door opens while the vehicle is in motion, causing panic among commuters. The incident occurs after a signalling fault forces staff to override the driverless system and drive the trains manually.

    • September 2017: Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan admits that the BPLRT was an "afterthought" to a built-up town, and constructed because of "political pressure". He likened the ride to a "roller-coaster", due to the twists and turns of the ride.

    • First half of 2018: A $344 million project to upgrade the BPLRT's power rail, signalling system and trains starts. Nineteen new trains will also replace the first-generation ones. The whole renewal project is targeted to be finished in 2024.

"For young people like me, we can walk or use ofo (shared bicycle provider) to the Downtown Line's Bukit Panjang station, so the LRT is not that necessary. For the elderly, having the LRT station is better for them because it is right on their doorstep," said Ms Tania R., 27, a restaurant supervisor.

Retailers at Junction 10 expect business to be affected.

Mall operator Far East Organization noted, however, that while the station's closure "may impact footfall", the overhaul of the Bukit Panjang LRT will benefit the whole precinct in the long run.

"We have a year-round marketing plan and will continue to work closely with our tenants to organise promotional activities to drive in-store and mall traffic," said its spokesman.

Adrian Lim

• Additional reporting Cheryl Tee

Correction note: The article has been edited to reflect the correct spelling of Far East Organization. We are sorry for the error.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 08, 2018, with the headline 'Station to be converted into testing ground for new trains'. Print Edition | Subscribe