Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Residents say new MRT lines are worth the wait


20km Jurong Region Line will help to ease congestion at Jurong East Station
The New Paper
January 20, 2013

Some Jurong residents hope the 20km Jurong Region Line (JRL) announced on Thursday will ease the congestion at Jurong East Station.

The line will allow commuters in the north to bypass the heavily used Jurong East Interchange and access the Jurong area directly, connecting Jurong West, Jurong Industrial Estate, West Coast, Choa Chu Kang and future developments in Tengah.

Jurong resident Aaron Peng, 28, a paralegal who works at Raffles Place, said: "Building the train stations and rail lines will cause a lot of inconvenience and noise in the short term. We will have to contend with these problems in exchange for the long-term potential benefits of greater accessibility and increased property prices."

Miss Chan Sin Lin, who grapples with the peak hour squeeze on the MRT daily, described an incident she witnessed several years ago: "Passengers at the Jurong East station were unable to board the packed trains coming from Boon Lay in the mornings. I saw a pregnant lady squeeze on board, but it was so crowded, she had difficulties breathing and nearly fainted. She had to get out."

The JRL is scheduled to be completed by 2025.

Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew also announced on thursday that there will be a 50-km Cross Island Line (CRL) which will span from Changi to Jurong, passing through Loyang, Pasir Ris, Hougang, Ang Mo Kio towards Bukit Timah, Clementi, West Coast and ending at the Jurong Industrial Estate.

This is targeted to be completed by 2030.

Mr Liu also announced some other enhancements to the rail network.

In all, the network length will be extended from its current 178km to 360km, providing shorter travel times and a denser rail network which will see eight in 10 households located within a 10-minute walk of a rail station.

He made the announcement during a visit to the upcoming section of the Chinatown station on the Downtown Line 1.

Improving transport

Mr Lui said the Government will invest heavily to improve land transport and provide Singaporeans with a much better travel experience.

Professor Lee Der Horng, a civil engineering associate professor who does research on transport, said the new rail lines and extensions will help make the rail network more complete, but pointed out that there is a long wayto go before they are completed.

Said Prof Lee: "I'm crossingmyfingersand hoping that the construction can be done at a faster pace so that we can enjoy greater convenience earlier than targeted. 2030 may be too far for people to accept."

"In the mean time, how are we going to deal with the ongoing situation of passenger congestion during peak hours?"

Transport economist Michael Li of Nanyang Business School said plans for the rail network expansion were overdue.

He said: "Singapore should have planned earlier. But it is good news. The coming MRT lines will be a major boost to the development of the Jurong area. But residents will have to bear with the pain of the noise and dust from construction."

Prof Li said residents should take a long-term view.

"Property value will increase but it will not happen overnight," he said.

He noted that infrastructure development is usually in tandem with the economic cycle.

Prof Li explained: "Actual implementation will partly depend on the performance of the country. When the economy is down, building the MRTcan lead to job creation. Material cost is also lower."

Other Improvements

1. The Circle Line will be completed by 2025, linking HarbourFront to Marina Bay station.

2. The North East Line will be extended northwards by one station to serve Punggol North including the new Punggol Downtown.

3. Downtown Line 3 which was scheduled to end at Expo station on the East-West Line will be extended so that it connects to the future Eastern Region Line by 2025.

4. LTA is also looking into the addition of a new station between Yishun and Sembawang stations on the North-South Line.





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