Work on Thomson Line gets into full swing

SINGAPORE - Work to build the 30km Thomson Line will move into full swing, after a ground-breaking ceremony for Singapore's sixth MRT line yesterday.

The $18 billion, 22-station line will run underground from Woodlands to Gardens by the Bay, and open in three phases from 2019 to 2021.

At the ceremony, Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew also announced that a new North-South Line station named Canberra will be built between Yishun and Sembawang. A feasibility study for the additional station has been completed, he said, and the Land Transport Authority (LTA) will provide more details later, such as its exact location and when it will open.

The Thomson Line will serve estates in the northern and central parts of the island, including Woodlands, Sin Ming, Thomson and Kim Seng. It will also ease crowding on the North-South Line and provide commuters with alternatives during service disruptions, said the minister.

"More than 400,000 commuters living and working along the Thomson Line will enjoy greater ease of access, more travel options and also shorter and more direct journeys," said Mr Lui.

He cited how residents from Springleaf estate in Sembawang will need only 35 minutes to travel to Great World City, compared to the current 60 minutes.

The Thomson Line will provide 60 per cent more capacity along the North-South corridor, Mr Lui added.

With six interchange stations, the line will give commuters more alternative routes and minimise inconvenience during disruptions, he noted.

The line will eventually be linked to Johor Baru via a rapid transit system link at Woodlands North station.

Asked for an update on the link, Mr Lui said details of Woodlands North have been finalised, and progress is dependent on the Malaysian side.

At the other end, Gardens by the Bay station will join the future Eastern Region Line, which Mr Lui said "is in the final stages of planning".

To date, 22 of 25 major civil contracts have been awarded to the tune of $6.5 billion, with the remaining three to be awarded by this year. The LTA has also ordered 91 four-carriage trains costing a total of $749 million.

In constructing Marina Bay station, Japanese contractor Taisei Corporation will use ice walls to prevent water seepage during tunnelling works - a first here.

This involves pumping refrigerant into pipes that will be inserted into the ground to freeze the groundwater.

As the Thomson Line will run below tunnels for the Circle and North-South Line for a 40m stretch, freezing the ground during excavation will ensure groundwater does not seep in and cause the ground to become unstable.

Other engineering challenges include carrying out mining works under the North-South Line at Orchard station, which requires engineers to ensure that surrounding structures like the station are not affected and rail operations are not disrupted.

Nee Soon GRC MP Patrick Tay welcomed news of the new Canberra station, noting that there are upcoming developments in the area. MP Lee Bee Wah, who oversees the Springleaf estate in Nee Soon GRC, said many residents there are waiting for the line to be completed.

"Some residents who live nearby told me that once their cars' certificates of entitlement expire, they won't buy another."

This article was first published on June 28, 2014.
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