SINGAPORE commuters will have direct access to the greater Central Business District (CBD) and Marina Bay in a decade, with three stations added in the sixth stage of the Circle Line (CCL).
The Land Transport Authority (LTA) on Thursday said the S$3.7 billion, 4-km-long Circle Line 6 (CCL6) will have three stations - Keppel, Cantonment and Prince Edward, which will connect HarbourFront Station to Marina Bay Station, thereby "closing the loop" and making the CCL live up to its name.
When completed in 2025, the line which now serves more than 400,000 commuters daily will have 33 stations along its 40-km route, including 12 interchange stations that enable connections to other MRT lines.
The Keppel Station is to be built along Keppel Road, near Keppel Distripark and Keppel Terminal.
The Cantonment Station will be integrated with the old Tanjong Pagar Railway Station (TPRS) and offer access to Spottiswoode Park Estate, Cantonment Towers and Tanjong Pagar Distripark.
Some 470 m of the train platform at the TPRS will have to make way for this station, but LTA gave the assurance that the TPRS building, which has been gazetted as a national monument, will not be affected.
LTA's chief executive Chew Men Leong said: "We are taking great care to ensure that we preserve the overall heritage value of the developed place ... Overall, because of the need to address site constraints, as well as serve existing and future catchments, the alignment (of the station) has to be such."
The LTA and the Urban Redevelopment Authority are in talks with the heritage community on possible solutions for the affected portion of the old platform, including preserving it or creating a replica.
Prince Edward Station, to be situated near Palmer Road, will offer access to 76 and 78 Shenton Way. It will be surrounded by heritage landmarks such as the Hock Teck See Temple and the Haji Muhammad Salleh Mosque and mausoleum, but these landmarks will also not be affected by the CCL6 rail project, the LTA said.
Construction work of the three new stations will start in mid-2017.
To facilitate the expansion of the CCL, the government will need to acquire four part-lots of private land amounting to some 7,700 sq m; these comprise open areas, grass verges, container stacking lots and driveways. The Singapore Land Authority (SLA) said it has gazetted the acquisition of the affected land, and sent notices to the landowners involved.
Acting Minister for Education (Schools) Ng Chee Meng, who is also Senior Minister of State for Transport, said CCL6 will support direct East-West travel and enhance the connectivity between areas such as Paya Lebar and Mountbatten, as well as areas including Pasir Panjang, Kent Ridge and HarbourFront.
Speaking at a tour of Tuas Link MRT station, part of the Tuas West rail extension, he said the CCL will connect to other MRT lines so commuters can transfer from line to line without having to enter the city centre. This would ease traffic in the city area and get commuters to their destinations more quickly.
For example, a trip from Bishan to Punggol entails seven stops - far fewer than the 18-stop journey for a commuter who switches to the North-South line at Dhoby Ghaut station.
Mr Ng noted that the three stations would lay the transportation foundations for the future redevelopment of the city-port area. When the port's City Terminals in Tanjong Pagar, Keppel and Brani move to Tuas after their leases expire in 2027, the opportunity to redevelop the area and enlarge the city-area footprint will arise.
"The opening of the CCL6 will catalyse the transformation of the area into the Greater Southern Waterfront," he said.
In 2013, the government said the waterfront land stretching from Keppel Channel to Pasir Panjang Terminal will open up after the City Terminals and Pasir Panjang Terminal complete their move to Tuas. The land is expected to be redeveloped for housing and commercial use as part of the Southern Waterfront City.
Mr Ng said that the 7.5km Tuas West extension, comprising stations Tuas, Tuas Crescent, Tuas West and Tuas Link, is on track to open at the end of next year.
Property analysts believe that CCL6, by creating greater access to areas such as Spottiswoode and the southern edge of the CBD, will invigorate and grow the value of the area.
Donald Han, managing director of Chesterton Singapore, said the completion of CCL6 is timed such that it will "come in handy" with the relocation of the City Terminals. This "packages the area nicely," he said, adding that the rental and capital values of existing commercial, residential and industrial properties in the area are projected to rise by about 10 per cent.
Desmond Sim, associate director of CBRE, said the overall connectivity to those areas will definitely improve, although the effect will not be immediate, given that the stations will be ready only in 10 years.
Future developments in the area are also expected to reap the benefits of the CCL6, he said, pointing out that existing residential developments in the Cantonment area "might be encouraged to go for en bloc (sales)".
Besides the three new stations, another S$2.3 billion will go into doubling the capacity of the current Kim Chuan depot, so it can hold more trains - 133 instead of the current 70. The integrated depot, to be completed in 2025, will also be able to house 550 buses.