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Speech by Minister Khaw Boon Wan at the Work Site of the Canberra MRT Station

09 May 2018 Speeches

1.     Good morning Parliamentary colleagues, friends, and especially residents from around here.

2.     Two years ago, we met here to ground-break for the construction of the new Canberra MRT Station. The station is of course a complete open secret. Anybody living around here using the North-South Line (NSL) would know that there will be a station upcoming up as there is missing station number in between the stations, and it is a long distance between Sembawang and Yishun MRT Stations. Since then, the (Canberra MRT Station) project has made good progress. We are on track to complete it in October next year for testing and commissioning. We expect to open the station for service by end of next year, hopefully before Christmas.

3.     Canberra MRT Station is the second station that we are building on a ‘live’ and operational MRT line. The first was the Dover MRT Station on the East-West Line (EWL). As you can imagine, such projects are not easy to do. It is like doing a bypass surgery on a beating heart. It can be done, but challenging.I thank our LTA colleagues and their contractors for their commitment to this project. Even more impressive is their safety record. There have been zero accidents since the start of construction. We still have some months to go – let’s keep it up.

4.     My residents in Sembawang and Yishun are looking forward to the opening of Canberra MRT Station. They ask me about progress regularly. Around 17,000 households stand to benefit as they will be within a 10-minute walk of the station. Today, they have to use shuttle buses to get to the nearest station. When Canberra MRT Station opens, they will be able to simply walk directly to the station to take the train. This will cut down their commuting time.  As you can see from the artist’s impression of the station later, it is a handsome building – there will be a beautiful station. I do not know if it is the most beautiful NSL station, but sometimes being late has its advantages. Budget was limited when we built the North-South and East-West Lines (NSEWL) 30 years ago. Now, while budget is still limited, we have a little bit more money than 30 years ago. So, usually there are only 1-2 entrances/exits at the NSEWL stations. But for Canberra MRT Station, there will be five entrances/exits, and there will be seamless connections including an elevated link bridge across the road, with lifts.

Improvements in Rail Transport

5.     We are working hard to meet our 2030 transport vision of having 8 out of 10 households within a 10-minute walk of a train station. As you heard the President’s Address a few days ago, we are not done building Singapore, especially in transport infrastructure. We have billions dollars of projects committed to be built in the next 15-20 years. We are building new lines, extending old lines and adding new stations. Next year, when the first stage of the Thomson-East Coast Line (TEL) opens, my Woodlands, Sembawang and Yishun residents will have another great reason to cheer. TEL will be our sixth MRT line.

6.     Beyond TEL, a few more new lines are being planned and will be built progressively.Today, let me share some details of our seventh MRT line - the Jurong Region Line, or JRL. As the name suggests, JRL will serve the Jurong and the western part of Singapore. JRL will connect residents in Choa Chu Kang, Boon Lay and the Tengah New Town. It will also connect the Nanyang Technological University (NTU), the Jurong Industrial Estate and the new Jurong Innovation District . It will relieve pressure on the crowded Jurong East Interchange Station by directly connecting the north to the Jurong region via a new JRL interchange station at Choa Chu Kang. In strategic terms, JRL will support the Government’s urban decentralisation strategy, and our strategy to keep Singapore car-lite.

Evolution of Jurong and the Western Part of Singapore

7.     Until the 1950s, Jurong was mostly swamps, jungles and small fishing villages. In 1961, Dr Goh Keng Swee mooted the idea of turning Jurong into an industrial park, to catalyse Singapore’s economic development. Today, it is a major economic and residential centre, home to 300,000 residents and workplace for 400,000, and growing.

8.     Jurong’s transport infrastructure has improved in tandem with its evolution:

a.     The expressways came first, with the Pan Island Expressway in 1981 and the Ayer Rajah Expressway in 1988.

b.     Trains came around the same time. The EWL was extended to Lakeside in 1988, and Boon Lay in 1990. The same year, a spur line linked up Jurong East and Choa Chu Kang. It was subsequently merged with the rest of the NSL in 1996. The EWL was further extended to Joo Koon in 2009, and to Tuas last year.

9.     The JRL marks a quantum leap. It will be 24km long with 24 stations, and will run above-ground. It will open in three phases, starting from 2026. The JRL will also improve the resilience of the entire MRT network – meaning you have route choices. For example, the two interchange stations at Choa Chu Kang and Boon Lay will connect the NSL and EWL, giving commuters alternative travel routes. This will help to redistribute and relieve train loading between Choa Chu Kang and Jurong East stations, so that commuters can enjoy more comfortable rides.

10.    The JRL will help develop the Jurong Lake District (JLD) into the largest commercial hub outside the CBD. Beyond the JLD, the JRL will also support the development of the Jurong Innovation District into a next generation industrial estate. Together with the upcoming Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High Speed Rail, commuters will have convenient connections not just within western Singapore, but also to Malaysia. When all these plans come together, Jurong will be a water front business hub nestled in greenery, served by good public transport connections, as well as amenities to support active mobility. This is our vision for Jurong – a vision which I am fully confident that our fourth-generation leadership will be able to discharge and make it a reality.

Conclusion

11.    To realise the vision, there will be inconveniences and some heartaches along the way when construction begins. So let me first thank in advance the residents, schools and businesses near the JRL construction sites. LTA and the contractors will minimise any inconvenience. In life, no pain is no gain. But for this, we will make sure small pain but big gain.

12.    Thank you.

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