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Speech by Mr Yeo Cheow Tong at the Official Opening of Dover Station on 23 Oct 2001

23 Oct 2001 Speeches

1.     I am very happy to be here today at the official opening of Dover Station. This station was opened for revenue operation just five days ago, and I understand it has been very well received. I am indeed glad that many people, especially the students and staff of the Singapore Polytechnic, are already benefiting from the opening of this station. The earlier opening of Dover Station will also help reduce travelling time for many Polytechnic students during this crucial exam period.

Dover Station

2.     Dover Station has the distinction of being the first station to be built on an existing, operating rail line. This was an engineering feat for the station designers, engineers and contractors. They had to work under testing conditions, as the East West line had to operate continuously, without any interruption, during the entire construction period. I am pleased that there were no incidents, and the safety and convenience of commuters were not compromised. This was only possible because of the close co-ordination between the contractor, Kumagai Gumi Co Ltd, LTA and the train operator, Singapore MRT Limited. I congratulate all of you on a job well done.

3.     I would also like to commend the team of local designers from RSP Architects who designed Dover Station. Built at a cost of $55 million, the station's unique design features are indeed a testament to the maturity and creativity of our local designers.

4.     On top of being an engineering feat, Dover Station also stands out as a model of public transport integration. Its broad linkways allow commuters direct access to the station from the bus stops and taxi stands. The linkbridge will in the near future be connected to the Singapore Polytechnic campus area fronting the station. This area, presently known as The Plaza, will be developed into the Singapore Polytechnic's future auditorium and recreation area. When completed in March 2003, The Plaza will become the focal point for the social, cultural and recreational activities of the students.

Long-term Plans for the Rapid Transit System Network

5.     Let me now turn to the long-term plans for the development of our rapid transit system. Over the next 10 to 15 years, the Land Transport Authority will roll out more rail lines, to fulfil the Government's vision of making the rail network the backbone of the public transport system. As a small island, we have very limited land for road expansion. The most efficient way of meeting the transport needs of a growing population is, therefore, to develop a comprehensive Rapid Transit System (RTS) network, which will enable large numbers of people to move quickly along heavily-populated corridors. Such a network will also provide Singaporeans with an attractive, convenient and affordable alternative to cars.

6.     However, investing in rail infrastructure is a heavy commitment, one that runs into tens of billions of dollars. It is therefore important for the Government to have prudent fiscal policies. Our budget surpluses can then be used to improve the lives of citizens. Provided the financial position of the Government remains strong, the plan is to increase the network from 90 km today to over 150 km in 2006, and to about 240 km by 2012. In the long-term rail master plan, the network will reach over 500 km, which is more than five times today's coverage.

Projects Under Construction

7.     Next year, two more rail projects will be completed. The $700 million Changi Airport Extension, to be completed in early 2002, will serve about 30,000 commuters daily. The $5 billion North-East Line (NEL), expected to be completed by end-2002, will carry over 400,000 passengers daily. On top of this, once the Sengkang and Punggol LRTs are up and running, those living along the North-East corridor will benefit even more.

8.     The construction of the Circle Line Stage 1, also known as the Marina Line, will start towards the end of this year. Targeted for completion in 2006, it is expected to serve up to 16,000 passengers during the morning peak hours. Details of the entire Circle Line are still being worked out by the LTA. We expect the entire Circle Line to be more than 30 km long. It will loop across the island and link up many towns. Estimated to cost over $5 billion, it will be completed in phases up to Year 2010.

New Rail Projects

9.     While building these new lines, LTA has also been actively planning the further expansion of the rail network. Today, I am happy to announce that the Government has decided to build three new lines. These are the Bukit Timah Line, the Eastern Region Line and the Jurong Region Line. The Bukit Timah Line, or BTL, will serve the Bukit Panjang, Upper Bukit Timah and Bukit Timah regions. The line is likely to be fully underground and will alleviate the heavy traffic in the Upper Bukit Timah/Bukit Timah/Dunearn Road corridor. It will also provide the areas around Choa Chu Kang and Bukit Panjang with a more direct link to the city centre.

10.   The Eastern Region Line, or ERL, will complement the existing East West Line, and help relieve the heavy passenger load on this line. It will enhance inter- and intra-town travelling in the eastern region, and provide residents with direct access to the city. The line will be largely underground, and will benefit residents in Tampines, Bedok, Marine Parade, Macpherson and Kaki Bukit.

11.   The Jurong Region Line, or JRL, is a light rail system. It will serve residents in Jurong who live beyond the end point of the existing East West Line. It will also benefit students and staff of Nanyang Technological University. The JRL will be extended from the existing East West Line, to enable residents and workers to have better access within the Jurong area and also better connectivity to the city.

12.   The three new lines, when completed, are expected to carry over 800,000 commuter trips a day. It will add over 60 km to the RTS network, bringing the total network to about 240 km, more than twice the current network of 90 km. Singaporeans can look forward to the convenience of a more extensive and more interconnected RTS network. Within many parts of the city centre, commuters can look forward to not being more than 400 metres, or a mere five to ten-minute walk, from the nearest train station.

13.   The three lines are estimated to cost over $11 billion. Whilst the Government will try to expedite the completion of these three projects, the actual schedule will depend on the state of the economy, which determines funding availability, and how fast we can complete the engineering and technical studies. Our current estimate is that the 3 should be completed within the next 10 to 15 years.

14.   By early next year, LTA will have started various preliminary engineering investigations that are essential for the commencement of design consultancy studies. These will generate about $16 million worth of work for the private sector over the next one to two years.

Conclusion

15.   I want to conclude by reiterating our Government's commitment to upgrading the quality of life for all Singaporeans. Investing in the rail infrastructure is but one of many areas where Government is setting aside significant funds to improve the lives of our people. The construction of the rail lines in progress, as well as new rail lines in the coming years, will continue to add significant value to the economy and provide many jobs for the industry.

16.   As we continue to expand the rail network, it will become even more attractive and convenient to commuters. The greater coverage and connectivity will make it more accessible, and help it develop into the vital backbone of our public transport system. It will also contribute to the Government's aim of making Singapore one of the best places to live in. All Singaporeans, I am sure, share this vision. And together, we can ensure that this vision becomes reality.

17.   On this note, it is my pleasure to declare the Dover Station officially open.