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Speech by Minister Khaw Boon Wan at the Thomson-East Coast Line Stage 1 Open House

11 Jan 2020 Speeches

1.     Welcome to the Open House for Thomson-East Coast Line Stage 1 (TEL1)! Passenger service for TEL1 will begin on Jan 31. Today’s Open House is an opportunity for our residents to familiarise themselves with the new stations and the various entrances and exits.  It is a happy day for our residents, as it marks the end of the construction disamenities which you have had to bear since 2014.  I thank you for your patience and understanding.  Now it is the time for you to enjoy the fruits of your patience.

Thomson-East Coast Line

2.     The TEL is our sixth MRT line, fully underground.  In total, it will cost us over $25 billion to construct. It runs parallel to the North-South and East-West Lines, two major MRT lines with heavy commuter loads. TEL will provide additional capacity and network resilience. When completed, the TEL will serve up to 1 million daily commuters, and bring the MRT network within 10 minutes’ walk of 250,000 households. 

3.     Given its length, 43 km, and complexity, 32 stations of which 8 are interchange stations, TEL is being built over 5 stages.  Stage 1 is the shortest and comprises only three stations, all within the Woodlands Town!  

4.     We could have combined it with Stage 2 which will extend southwards to Caldecott station through 5 stations.  But we decided to open Stage 1 first.  Doing this allows us to run in all the new systems, before the remaining stages open in the next few years. For Woodlands residents, opening Stage 1 is a no-brainer.  Why wait when it is already completed?  Why deprive the students from Republic Polytechnic, Singapore Sports School and Christ Church Secondary School from immediately enjoying the benefits of extra sleep and shorter commuting time? Our Muslim residents will also have a more convenient connection to Masjid Yusof Ishak soon rather than later.

5.     I have asked LTA for a briefing on the progress of the rest of TEL, and especially on Stage 2. I will share more details in due course. Like many of you, I am keen to know the estimated completion date of Stage 2! Stage 2 is of personal interest as its Lentor Station is near my house!

6.     Meanwhile, I would like to highlight four design features of TEL1:

7.     First, we have worked with local artists to inject life and vibrancy into stations through the Art-in-Transit programme. The artists have involved the commuters in the creation of their artworks.  We hope this would give the commuters a greater sense of pride and intimacy.

8.     Second, we designed the TEL Woodlands North station to connect to the proposed Johor Bahru – Singapore Rapid Transit System (RTS) Link station, if and when, it materialises. Both stations will be adjacent to each other, and seamlessly connected at the basement concourse level. The station was therefore sized accordingly, to accommodate the peak hour traffic travelling between Singapore and Johor Bahru via the RTS Link.  

9.     Third, the TEL Woodlands station is also a Civil Defence shelter. During national emergencies, it can keep 9,000 people safe! In fact, there are 49 of such civil defence shelters in our MRT stations island wide!

10.    Lastly, we designed the TEL trains to have five doors on each side of the train cabin, instead of the usual four. You can see this for yourself when you board the trains later. This new design facilitates quicker and smoother boarding and alighting for commuters.

Ensuring Sustainability

11.    Every new MRT line is an opportunity for us to exploit new technology to innovate, and apply new operating and commercial models, so that we can provide a better service. As I remind LTA engineers: every new MRT line must be better than the existing ones.  The TEL team has done so in four areas: 

12.    First, the TEL Mandai Depot is a green depot, with 6,200 solar panels to reduce its carbon footprint. 

13.    Second, the TEL trains and operating systems come with a full suite of condition monitoring devices. These improve reliability and contribute to more efficient operations and maintenance. 

14.    Third, TEL will be the first MRT line to feature a new ticketing machine called the Assisted Service Kiosk.  This allows a centralised pool of officers to serve commuters at any TEL station via video calls. This enables commuters to enjoy the full suite of ticketing services as if there was a manned counter at every station. 

15.    Fourth, we have adopted a new outsourcing model for the TEL’s advertising and retail business. This is a first in Singapore for rail, and our tender has attracted best-in-class advertising and retail operators from around the world to participate. We have awarded the advertising and retail businesses. We hope their wealth of experience will help to improve the vibrancy of stations and substantially increase our non-fare revenue. 


16.    Finally, let me take this opportunity to thank everyone who has contributed to this project – colleagues from LTA, SMRT as well as our local and international contractors and system suppliers.  

17.    Thank you.