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Speech by Minister for Transport, Mr S. Iswaran, at Media Visit to Thomson-East Coast Line (TEL) Caldecott Station

30 Jun 2021 Speeches

Fellow Advisors, friends and colleagues,

Opening Remarks

1.     Good morning. I am pleased to join you this morning at Caldecott station, which is part of Stage 2 of the Thomson-East Coast Line, or TEL2.

2.     As outlined in our Singapore Green Plan 2030 targets, our goal is to encourage more commuters to use public transport because it is the most sustainable mode of transportation. To achieve this, our rail network, as the backbone of our public transport system, must be comprehensive and reliable. 

3.     We have been enhancing our rail network to benefit all Singaporeans, by focusing on three key priorities: broadening its coverage; enhancing its resilience; and making it more inclusive. 

Broadening coverage 

4.     Over the decades, we have steadily and significantly expanded the coverage of our MRT network; building more lines and stations to bring it to all quarters of Singapore.  
 
a.     In 1987, we opened the first five stations of the North-South Line, which ran for 6km from Toa Payoh to Yio Chu Kang. 

b.     In 1995, with the expansion of the North-South Line, and the building of the East-West Line, our network comprised 42 stations over 67km. 

c.     The opening of the North East Line and Sengkang LRT Line in 2003 increased this to 128km and 85 stations, serving the growing population in the Northeast.

d.     We opened the Circle Line in stages from 2009, and the Downtown Line from 2013. And, the first stage of TEL commenced last year. That is quite a remarkable series of development in our MRT system over the decades.  

e.     Today, our rail network comprises six MRT and three LRT lines, spanning 230km, connecting 183 stations.

5.     In the coming decade, we will further expand our rail network at an unprecedented rate. When TEL, the Jurong Region Line, and the Cross Island Line are completed by the early 2030s, our rail network would have grown by 50% to 360km; its density would be comparable to that of London and New York City. 

Enhancing resilience 

6.     Beyond coverage, we need a system that is resilient. TEL, our sixth MRT line, is designed to strengthen network resilience at the system level. 

a.     When fully open, TEL will interchange with all five existing MRT lines, and the upcoming Cross Island line. 

b.     The nine stations of TEL1 and TEL2 already have three interchanges: at Woodlands with the North-South Line, Caldecott with the Circle Line, and eventually Bright Hill with the Cross Island Line.   

7.     The other critical aspect of resilience is the reliability of our MRT network.  

a.     Rail reliability is a top priority for us, and we have made good progress over the past few years. I want to take this opportunity to thank LTA, the rail operators, technicians, engineers and ground staff for their many hours of hard work that brought us to where we are today.

b.     But this is a relentless effort, and we must continue to achieve our target of 1 million Mean Kilometres Between Failures.

Increasing inclusivity

8.     Ultimately, we want to make our public transport network inclusive, user-friendly, and accessible to all commuters. 

9.     TEL exemplifies this. 

a.     Caldecott station is located in the vicinity of the Singapore Association of the Visually Handicapped and Lighthouse School. To better support visually impaired commuters, TEL’s lift buttons, platform seats and signages will have greater colour contrasts. Lighting will also be installed into the handrails of staircases, to enhance the visibility of the steps. 

b.     For our seniors and commuters with mobility difficulties, there will be backrests and handrails on TEL’s platform seats.

10.    The infrastructure surrounding TEL stations will also improve ease of access. 

a.     Many of TEL’s stations serve as underground crossings that will be integrated with nearby developments.

b.     There are more entrances per station and covered linkways to nearby residential estates and amenities which would help to shelter commuters. 

Benefits of TEL

11.    With greater coverage, resilience and inclusivity, our people will enjoy better end-to-end connectivity and shorter journey times. 

a.     More households will now be nearer to an MRT station. When TEL is fully completed, more than 240,000 current and future households will be within a 10-minute walk of a TEL station. TEL1 and TEL2 alone will benefit about 100,000 households. 

b.     This proximity will help reduce commuting times. For example, a student travelling via TEL from Sin Ming to Republic Polytechnic in Woodlands will have his or her journey reduced by half to 25 minutes. 

Thanking everyone for contributing to TEL

12.    All of us in the One Transport family are very excited by the future of our rail network, and to bring the completed Thomson-East Coast Line to all Singaporeans. In the meantime, we are working to open TEL in stages. I know that many have been looking forward to this, and so I am very happy to announce that TEL2 will be open for passenger service from 28 August 2021. 

13.    Like other infrastructure projects, TEL’s construction has been made more challenging due to COVID-19. The opening of TEL2 would not have been possible without the hard work, adaptability and personal sacrifices of our technicians, engineers and ground staff. I would like to acknowledge them specifically, especially the LTA and SMRT teams who have been working very hard to prepare TEL2 for opening. I would also like to thank our frontline land transport workers all over Singapore, who have kept our world moving amidst COVID-19.

a.     The staff have had to accept and adapt to fortnightly swab tests, changing their everyday routines with staggered working hours, working in split teams, and segregations in travel modes, meals and break times. 

b.     One example is Mr K Sarravanan, a Communications Systems Engineer. He joined LTA in 2017, fresh out of school, and worked on Downtown Line Stage 3 and TEL. Together with his team, he worked through the COVID-19 pandemic to conduct rigorous testing on the communications system installed on our TEL trains, to ensure smooth and safe train operations. On a more personal note, TEL2 holds a special place in Sarravanan’s heart because his grandmother lives close to Mayflower station. She, like many others, has been looking forward to taking her first ride on TEL2 and Sarra can now give his grandmother the good news.   

14.    Finally, I would like to thank the residents and businesses in the vicinity and the motorists for your cooperation and understanding over the years as TEL2 was being built.  LTA has done its best to minimise the disamenities and now that construction is wrapping up for this stage, we will be able to enjoy the benefits of TEL2 soon. 

15.    We all look forward to seeing commuters on TEL2. I encourage all Singaporeans, especially those who live or work along TEL2, to come, take a look at the stations, and take a ride on TEL2. 

16.    I wish everyone good health and all the best. Thank you.