Thursday, August 30, 2012

Land lots to be acquired for new line


Business Times: Thu, Aug 30

[SINGAPORE] The $18 billion Thomson Line will see its first phase commencing in 2019, one year later than originally expected under the 2008 Land Transport Masterplan.

To make way for the line, the government will have to acquire four full lots of land - which will affect Pearls Centre on Eu Tong Sen Street, a post office at Upper Thomson Road and two landed properties along Stevens Road and Robin Close - as well as five other part lots of land.

Singapore's sixth MRT line will span a total of 30km, some 3km longer than initially planned, and at 22 stations it will offer four more stations. Starting in the Woodlands North area, the line will pass through industrial estate Sin Ming, then Thomson, Orchard and Marina before ending at the Gardens by the Bay - essentially running through the north-south corridor.

"We have decided that the Thomson Line would be a four-car system, instead of a three-car system, to give us additional capacity to cope with any increase in long-term demand," said Minister for Transport Lui Tuck Yew.

"Residents in the heartlands of Sembawang, Nee Soon, Ang Mo Kio, Bishan-Toa Payoh and Moulmein-Kallang will benefit from faster and more direct connections to the city," he added.

Thomson Line will be launched progressively in three stages from the north to the south - with three stations from Woodlands North to Woodlands South ready by 2019, six stations from Springleaf to Caldecott ready in 2020, and the final 13 stations from Mount Pleasant to the Gardens by the Bay fully operational by 2021.

The fully underground line will have six interchange stations, which will link it to the other five lines - the East-West line, the North-South line, the North-East line, the Circle Line as well as the upcoming Downtown Line - to increase accessibility and cut down travelling time for commuters.

For instance, a commuter travelling from Sin Ming to Republic Polytechnic would typically take 50 minutes to travel today, but with the Thomson Line, travel time will be cut by half to 25 minutes. Similarly, a traveller going from Springleaf Estate to Great World City will take 35 minutes with the Thomson Line, compared to an hour presently.

Some 400,000 commuters are expected to use the line daily in its early years.

Once it is fully up and running, at least 60,000 households will be within 400m of a Thomson Line station, while another 100,000 households will be 400m to 800m, or a 10-12 minute walk, away.

In a joint statement yesterday, the Land Transport Authority (LTA), Singapore Land Authority (SLA) and Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) said that while all efforts had been made to minimise land acquisition, a total of some 12,977.7 sq m (about 139,690.7 sq ft) of area will be acquired. Acquisition costs are covered under the $18 billion price tag.

"In accordance with the Land Acquisition Act, compensation will be pegged to the market value of the property as at the date of the acquisition of the land," said an SLA spokesman. "The compensation will take into consideration past transactions, and the condition of the acquired property, among other factors. The compensation will also take into account reasonable expenses, (for example) legal fees, relocation costs, stamp duties where applicable."

Specifically, Pearls Centre will be affected by the Thomson Line construction, as a tunnel will run under part of the building. Following the acquisition, the site will be integrated with the adjoining state land for a high-density mixed-use development to optimise land use around the future Thomson Line station at Outram Park.

Credo's managing director Karamjit Singh noted: "The owners of Pearls Centre could have chosen the en bloc route. How compensation will compare against the en bloc potential is something that remains to be seen."

Five other lots will see part of their area acquired, but this will not affect the main building structure. These include the open area in front of Lighthouse School along Toa Payoh Rise, and the open area and a bit of the entrance of the Singapore Association of the Visually Handicapped.

Great World City will lose some of the grass patch in front of the building, while Singapore Chinese Girls' School will see its boundary wall and tennis court affected.

The Yong An Park condominium at River Valley Road will have its boundary fence pushed back.

  
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