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Khaw: Govt mulling direct MRT link from airport to city and to high-speed rail terminus

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Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan said on Thursday that the government is studying the feasibility of extending the Thomson-East Coast Line (TEL) beyond its planned five stages of construction, which are scheduled to open between 2019 and 2024.

Singapore

DIRECT MRT connections from Changi Airport to Singapore's city centre and to the future Singapore terminus of the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High-Speed Rail might be in the works.

Currently, train commuters from the airport have to switch trains at Tanah Merah station on the East-West Line to head to the city.

That may change.

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Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan said on Thursday that the government is studying the feasibility of extending the Thomson-East Coast Line (TEL) beyond its planned five stages of construction, which are scheduled to open between 2019 and 2024.

Speaking at the groundbreaking ceremony of the East Coast stretch of TEL in Marine Parade, the minister said: "Such an extension would connect the TEL to our future Changi Airport Terminal 5, as well as the existing Changi Airport MRT station serving Terminals 1 to 4. It would provide a direct connection from the airport to the city."

The first stations on this stretch are expected to open in 2023.

If the extension gets the go-ahead, commuters coming from Changi Airport can hop on the East Coast stretch of the 43 km TEL and zip directly to stations in the city without needing to switch trains.

The 13 km East Coast stretch links up with the 30 km Thomson stretch. The Thomson portion links Woodlands North to Gardens by the Bay, with stations at Orchard, Outram Park and Marina Bay in between. The line then heads east along the East Coast stretch.

The northern end of the Thomson stretch may be extended farther to link up with the rapid transit system link to Malaysia's Johor Bahru, said Mr Khaw.

The second phase of an advanced engineering study is ongoing.

At the same time, Singapore is also exploring linking the Cross Island Line (CRL) to T5 and the new industrial zone serving Changi Airport. This would link the airport directly to the proposed Singapore terminus of the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High-Speed Rail in Jurong East.

Mr Khaw said: "So potentially, you can, if you want, have a traveller from KL Sentral . . . (travel) all the way to Changi Airport."

The 50 km CRL was first announced in 2013; its final alignment has yet been decided.

"Together, these options enable many commuters who use the MRT network to get from all parts of the island to the airport with no more than one transfer," said Mr Khaw.

More details will be announced the engineering feasibility studies for the TEL and CRL are completed.

The finalised names for the nine stations on the East Coast stretch of the TEL were unveiled on Thursday. They are Tanjong Rhu, Katong Park, Tanjong Katong, Marine Parade, Marine Terrace, Siglap, Bayshore, Bedok South and Sungei Bedok.

Thursday's groundbreaking also marked the start of construction for the Downtown Line 3 Extension (DTL3e). This line is 2.2 km long and will have two stations. One is Sungei Bedok, an interchange station with the TEL; the other is Xilin, located at where Xilin Avenue meets Changi South Avenue 3. DTL3e will then connect with Expo station.

Work on the East Coast Integrated Depot also started on Thursday. This world's first four-in-one depot will function as a depot for the TEL, Downtown Line (DTL), East-West Line and as a bus depot.

Mr Khaw also said on Thursday that ridership on the DTL rose from 83,000 in October 2015, before the second phase of the DTL opened, to 250,000 in May this year.

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