Back to top
A-  A+

Speech by Minister Khaw Boon Wan on the Announcement of the Cross Island Line (Phase 1) Alignment at TEL Bright Hill Station work-site

25 Jan 2019 Speeches

1.     As you know, we are spending billions of dollars expanding our MRT network. We are on track to open Stage 1 of the Thomson-East Coast Line (TEL) before the end of this year. TEL is our sixth MRT line. We have also started calling tenders for the construction of our seventh MRT line, the Jurong Region Line. Today’s event is about our eighth MRT line, the Cross Island Line (CRL).

2.     We have finalised the alignment of Phase 1 of the CRL. It will be 29-km long. It will have 12 stations that will pass through areas such as Changi, Loyang, Pasir Ris, Hougang, Ang Mo Kio and Bright Hill. When it is completed by 2029, more than 100,000 households will enjoy better connectivity and shorter travelling times.

3.     Where we are standing today will be the Thomson East Coast Line’s Bright Hill Station. This station will further expand to become an interchange station with the CRL. Phase 1 of the CRL will have three other interchanges – at Ang Mo Kio with the North-South Line, at Hougang with the North East Line and at Pasir Ris with the East-West Line.

Land Transport Master Plan

4.     We first announced the CRL as part of the Land Transport Master Plan 2013. The CRL will bring us closer to our goal of having 8 in 10 households live within a 10-minute walk of a train station. It will help realise our vision for a car-lite Singapore.

Significance of the CRL

5.     As its name suggests, the Cross Island Line will stretch across Singapore to connect the western, north-eastern and eastern reaches of our island, including potentially to Changi Airport. It will greatly enhance the network effect of our rail network and bring the following benefits:

6.     Firstly, it will support new and vibrant hubs of economic activities outside the Central Business District, such as the Jurong Lake District, Punggol Digital District and Changi region. Recreational spaces such as Changi Beach Park and the nearby Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park will also become more accessible to Singaporeans using public transport.

7.     Secondly, it will make a positive impact on the public transport experience. By connecting key commuter corridors across Singapore, the CRL will help to redistribute passenger loading on the North-South Line, East-West Line and North East Line. With the CRL stations interchanging with all existing radial lines, commuters will have more journey options to get to their destinations. Many will benefit from shorter journeys and faster travel times. For example, commuters travelling from Serangoon North to Loyang Industrial Area will see their journey times reduced by 50 minutes thanks to a direct connection provided by the CRL.

8.     Thirdly, it will improve the resilience of our rail network. As an orbital line that
spans almost the entire length of our island, the CRL provides commuters with
alternative travel options should certain parts of the network experience a delay.

Construction of the CRL

9.     The CRL is a massive undertaking. It will be our longest fully underground rail
line. The CRL demonstrates our commitment towards expanding rail as the backbone
of our public transport network.

10.    Last month, the Financial Times (20 Dec 2018) published a long article (“How
Europe’s largest transport project stalled”) on the British Crossrail Project. This is
Europe’s largest transport project but it has been running severely behind schedule.
The article explained why. Apparently, the Crossrail Line will have to integrate 5
different signalling systems split across 3 different rail lines. To us who have had to
manage the re-signalling of the North-South and East-West Lines, the article brought
back painful memories.

11.    The article also reminded us of the recent six-hour disruption experienced by
the Hong Kong MTR system. The problem there appeared to be caused by integration
issues between the signalling system provided by two different suppliers on four MTR
lines. Remember: we faced similar problems when the East-West Line was running
with two different signalling systems, two years ago.

12.    These are valuable lessons from local and overseas examples, which we must
archive and re-teach to every new batch of engineers. We must avoid making similar

13.    Specifically, the entire CRL will only have one single signalling system. Not only
that, we have also learnt that the signalling system comes with lots of VOBCs (Vehicle
On-Board Controllers) and track side equipment, and if such devices or components
come from less than reliable manufacturers or are not robust enough to withstand the
vibrations of a moving train, then the final signalling system delivered to us will have
lots of cleaning up or replacement problems during operation. These are the sorts of
details which our engineers must pay attention to, and be always mindful of.

14.    Today, I am also happy to announce a new depot in the east – the CRL Changi
East depot. This depot was originally planned as an underground facility, like the rest
of the CRL stations and tunnels. However, after a thorough cost-benefit analysis with
agencies, we decided to locate the depot and its reception tracks above ground. This
decision will save taxpayers more than $3.5 billion!


15.    When construction for Phase 1 of the CRL starts in 2020, there will be some
impact to nearby residents and businesses. LTA will work closely with its contractors
and the local community to minimise these inconveniences. I thank those affected in
advance for their patience, support and understanding.

16.    Thank you.