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'I wanted to be the first': Train lover shows up early at Bayshore station on TEL4's first day of passenger service

'I wanted to be the first': Train lover shows up early at Bayshore station on TEL4's first day of passenger service
ITE student and train enthusiast Chong Zu Heng showed up at Bayshore MRT at 4.50am to catch the first train on the first day of service of Stage 4 of the Thomson-East Coast Line
PHOTO: AsiaOne/Nabila Ghani

At a time when most people would still be in bed, ITE student Chong Zu Heng was up and about at Bayshore MRT station at 4.50am - just so he could catch the first train.

But it was not just any first train. It was the first day of passenger service for Stage 4 of the Thomson-East Coast Line (TEL).

Chong, 20, a train enthusiast, told media at the station: "I wanted to be the first one to ride on the train on this new line before other passengers."

He had taken a private-hire car from his home in Tiong Bahru to the station and waited for more than an hour before the train service started at 6.16am. He was going to visit several new stations on the line including Siglap, Marine Parade and Tanjong Rhu.

TEL Stage 4 (TEL4) consists of seven stations - Tanjong Rhu, Katong Park, Tanjong Katong, Marine Parade, Marine Terrace, Siglap and Bayshore. 

The station that Chong was most looking forward to dropping by was Katong Park: "I like the natural lighting at the station; You get a really nice effect in photos when the sun shines in. It also allows the station to use less energy for lighting."

He noted that before TEL4, most of the areas where the new stations serve was only accessible by bus if one takes public transport. But with the new line, "it makes it easier for Singaporeans to visit places like Marine Parade and East Coast Park".

Chin Hong Wei, the station manager at Tanjong Rhu station, said: "The TEL will link (commuters) from Woodlands all the way to Bayshore, which leads to East Coast Park as well as the various amenities and facilities available in the east side of Singapore. It will greatly shorten the time taken for those travelling to and from the east."

For Tanjong Rhu station in particular, Chin pointed out that because of its proximity to the National Stadium and Singapore Indoor Stadium, it can serve as an additional transport option for visitors during large-scale events and concerts, helping to divert human traffic from the existing Stadium and Kallang stations.

Residents living in the east have also noted the convenience of the new line. 

Public servant Clarissa Chia, 26, who lives in Marine Parade, was travelling on the TEL4 from her home in Marine Parade to her church in the city area.

She told AsiaOne that she would now take the train instead of the bus as "it is more regular", even though the journey time remains around the same at 30 minutes.

Businesses located along the new line stand to benefit too.

Winnie Lin, 50, who runs a cooked food stall at the Marine Parade Central Food Centre, told AsiaOne she expects more diners as the hawker centre sits right at the entrance of the Marine Parade MRT station.

"I hope business will improve, since the MRT station is so near and it is so convenient for people to come here now," she said.

The next stage of TEL, consisting of Bedok South and Sungei Bedok stations, will be completed by 2026. The eastern end of the TEL will be eventually connected to Changi Airport via an extension to be completed by the mid-2030s, passing through the new Terminal 5, while the northern end of the TEL will link to the Johor Bahru-Singapore Rapid Transit System Link at Woodlands North station.

ALSO READ: 'Some people have even called this TEL4 line the makan line': PM Wong opens new stations from Tanjong Rhu to Bayshore

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