Thousands check out DTL2 on opening day

The second phase of the Downtown Line opened yesterday, providing fresh commuting options to residents in Bukit Panjang and along the Bukit Timah corridor.

The 16.6km Downtown Line 2 (DTL2), comprising 12 stations, includes stops at attractions such as the Botanic Gardens, Little India and food haven Beauty World.

Some stations, such as Tan Kah Kee and Stevens, also provide links to schools, including Hwa Chong Institution, Singapore Chinese Girls' School and National Junior College.

Thousands of curious commuters showed up on the first day to explore the new line and test out alternative routes to work and school.

Some said the new line reduces their travel time significantly. The journey from Bukit Panjang to Rochor, for example, is expected to take 20 minutes less compared with previous routes. Bukit Panjang resident Helen Tan, 65, who goes to church in Holland Village every week, said commuting on the new train line will save her about 20 minutes. "It used to take me about an hour by bus, and the waiting time could be quite unpredictable due to traffic," said the retiree.

MP for Holland-Bukit Timah GRC Liang Eng Hwa described the new line as a "game changer" for Bukit Panjang residents, who were previously not served by MRT lines and relied on bus services that are often packed. Mr Liang said yesterday: "The line may change lifestyles. Residents now have new weekend destinations to explore."

Rides starting and ending on the Downtown Line, run by SBS Transit, will be free till Jan 1.

Yesterday, station staff were seen distributing Downtown Line tote bags to commuters, some of whom woke up early to check out the line.

Retiree Chau Kee Hong, 71, and his wife Tang Cheh Khoon, 68, left their Jurong West home at about 8am. Madam Tang, a cleaner, said: "We are getting out at every stop just to look around and familiarise ourselves with the stations and their surroundings."

By lunch time, there were long queues leading to the station gates. Crowds at Bukit Panjang station swelled but many took the time to admire the artwork in the stations. Mr Chau said: "It really adds to the atmosphere."

This article was first published on Dec 28, 2015.
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