Public get first peek at second phase of Downtown Line

People taking the Downtown Line can expect shorter waits for the train when the second phase of the network (DTL2) opens on Dec 27.

During peak hours, trains will run at 21/2 to three minute intervals, more frequent than the three to four minute intervals on the six-station Downtown Line 1 (DTL1), which opened two years ago.

The 16.6km DTL2 will start from Bukit Panjang, and pass through the Bukit Timah corridor towards Rochor, before connecting to the DTL1 at Bugis station.

During off-peak periods, train intervals will be no more than five minutes, faster than the current five to six minutes on the DTL1.

While the signalling system on the DTL allows trains to be run as frequently as every 100 seconds, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) said it will monitor the intervals and "tailor them" based on the line's operational requirements.

Yesterday, the 12-station DTL2 was opened for a one-day preview. Travel was free between 10am and 6pm for the public to explore the stations' layouts and amenities.

At six stations, commuters were treated to games and activities hosted by celebrities such as Irene Ang, Glenn Ong and Chua En Lai.

The Botanic Gardens station hosted a photo exhibition, while the Little India Station offered pinball games. Roaming around the stations were life-size mascots of Move-In Martin, Give-Way Glenda and Stand-Up Stacey - cartoon characters from an LTA campaign to promote thoughtfulness on public transport. LTA said 200,000 people attended the open house.

The 12 stations on the DTL2 are: Bukit Panjang (interchange), Cashew, Hillview, Beauty World, King Albert Park, Sixth Avenue, Tan Kah Kee, Botanic Gardens (interchange), Stevens, Newton (interchange), Little India (interchange) and Rochor. The interchange stations link to the Bukit Panjang LRT, Circle Line, North-South Line and North-East Line, respectively.

Among the crowd waiting for Beauty World station to open yesterday morning was programme manager Irene Tay, 43, who had sold her car in October in anticipation of the line's opening.

She intends to take the train from her King Albert Park home to her office in Alexandra when the line opens. Her two daughters, who study at Singapore Chinese Girls' School, will be able to wake up 25 minutes later, as the new Stevens station is within walking distance from their school, she said, adding: "Traffic is usually bad in the morning and there's a whole line of cars waiting to drop children off at the school. It'll be faster by train."

Educator Chan Kok Choy, 54, said: "I can't remember when I last took the MRT." He decided to try out the new line after seeing posters about the open house at his Hillview condo.

"I usually drive to Middle Road during Chinese New Year to visit the Guanyin temple. Maybe I will take the MRT instead since the station is so near my home," he added.

Senior Minister of State for Transport Ng Chee Meng, who rode the DTL2 yesterday and visited six stations, said the general feedback he got from commuters was that it was "very, very convenient".

"It will serve the whole stretch of residents very well," he added.

There was one hiccup though. Facebook user Mani Pariasamy, who posted a photo of Tan Kah Kee station, pointed out that the Tamil translation of the name was inaccurate - it read "paan kah kee" instead. LTA issued an apology and said it would be taking "immediate action" to have the error corrected before the DTL2 officially opens.

The DTL2 will connect commuters to the existing DTL1 that now takes riders to the Marina Bay area.

Travel on the Downtown Line is free from Dec 27 to Jan 1. Commuters need only start and end their journey at any of the 18 DTL stations to enjoy the free travel.

This article was first published on Dec 6, 2015.
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