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Speech By Mr Yeo Cheow Tong At The Opening Of The Changi Airport MRT Extension on 27 February 2002

27 Feb 2002 Speeches

Distinguished Guests
Ladies and Gentlemen

        It is my pleasure to be here this evening for the official opening of the Changi Airport MRT Extension.

2.     The plan to build a 6-kilometre MRT extension to Changi Airport was first announced by DPM Lee Hsien Loong in November 1996. The project has progressed well, with the first of its two stations, the Expo Station, opening in January last year. The early opening of the Expo Station has benefited visitors attending exhibitions at the Singapore Expo, as well as residents and workers in the area. I am glad that the entire extension has now been completed, with the opening of Changi Airport Station for revenue service earlier this month on 8 Feb 2002.

3.     It is indeed fitting that Changi, which has received numerous accolades as the world's best airport, is now served by an equally outstanding public transport system. The significance of the Changi Airport station lies in the fact that it is an important part of Singapore's gateway to the world. The MRT is now brought right into the heart of the airport. It not only provides an efficient and quick public transport link to the city centre, but is also a fitting introduction for international travellers to Singapore's public rail system. Looking around, you will realise that the station itself is a visual feast for the eyes, not to mention the various features which have been incorporated into its design to make it friendly to travellers.

4.     On top of this, Changi Airport Station will benefit the 35,000 airport workers who commute daily to the airport. Singaporeans, who frequent the airport for leisure purposes and to receive or send off friends and relatives, will also have an additional mode of public transport to the airport.

5.     The design of the station was a joint effort by LTA, PWD Corp, Arup International and Skidmore Owings and Merrill. Together with the contractors, Kumagai Gumi and Sembawang Engineering and Construction, they have delivered a station that is simply outstanding in terms of function and aesthetics. I congratulate them on a job well done.

North East Line

6.     The next milestone in our rail expansion programme is the opening of the North East Line (NEL) by the end of this year. With NEL, the rail network will be further extended from Harbourfront Station in the south to Punggol Station in the Northeast. It will serve areas such as Serangoon, Hougang and Sengkang en-route. The line will provide passengers along the Northeast corridor with a fast and direct access to the city centre via the MRT.

7.     NEL is currently undergoing tests and trial runs in preparation for service. In preparation for the opening of NEL, LTA has also reviewed the operational requirements and ridership levels of the line. Following an extensive review, we now plan to open 15 out of the 16 NEL stations when the line opens for service. Some of these stations are Chinatown Station, Dhoby Ghaut Interchange Station, Farrer Park Station, Potong Pasir Station, Serangoon Station and Hougang Station.

8.     Woodleigh station is the only station that will not be opened with the rest of the line. The station is still largely surrounded by the Bidadari cemeteries, where exhumation works are only expected to be completed in 2006. The station will be opened when developments in its surrounding area generate sufficient demand to justify its opening. We have, nonetheless, provided for the construction of the station so that it can be opened with minimal delay as soon as its ridership justifies doing so.

Conclusion

9.     The successful completion of the Changi Airport Extension was made possible because of the close co-operation between LTA, CAAS and the operator SMRT. I would like to commend all parties for their commitment and hard work in ensuring that airport operations were not disrupted during construction. With the opening of the MRT extension, Changi Airport is now accessible by all modes of public transport - a vision that has finally become reality.

10.   On this note, it is now my pleasure to declare the Changi Airport Extension officially open.