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Cross Island Line to run directly under central catchment nature reserve: MOT

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THE future Cross Island Line will run directly under the central catchment nature reserve instead of skirting it, announced the Ministry of Transport (MOT) on Wednesday evening.

THE future Cross Island Line will run directly under the central catchment nature reserve instead of skirting it, announced the Ministry of Transport (MOT) on Wednesday evening.

The government had decided on the "direct alignment" option of tunnelling 70 metres underground after taking into account the findings from the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) study as well as public consultations over the past few months, it added.

This decision came about after months of debate and criticism from nature groups that running the line under Singapore's largest nature reserve would damage it, even as skirting around it is a longer, more expensive route that would affect residents in the area.

According to MOT, running the Cross Island Line under the central catchment nature reserve will reduce commuting time by six minutes per commuter per trip compared to the skirting option. It will also result in lower public transport fares of about 15 per cent on average due to the shorter route, as well as lower construction costs of about S$2 billion.

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MOT also claimed that it is a more environmentally-friendly option in the longer term as the direct route results in lower energy consumption.

Based on feedback from nature groups, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) had earlier committed to tunnelling deeper than the usual 20 to 30 metres underground to as deep as 70 metres below average ground level for the two-kilometre stretch of the direct alignment under the central catchment nature reserve.

Doing this ensures that tunnelling is far away from surface flora and fauna, with no surface works in the nature reserve, said MOT.

It is also locating and optimising the layout of two worksites outside the nature reserve to reduce any potential disturbance to flora and fauna.

"LTA has been and is fully committed to implementing all practicable environmental mitigation measures recommended by the EIA," said MOT in the statement. "We will continue to engage and address feedback from stakeholders during the design and construction phase."

The Cross Island Line, Singapore's eighth MRT line, is expected to have a daily ridership of more than 600,000 in its initial years, before growing to over one million in the longer term. The line will be more than 50 kilometres long and have almost half of its stations as interchanges with other train lines.