Cross-Island MRT line will not be built?

While Singapore is small compared to many to most of the other major cities, capitals or countries in the world, location nevertheless is everything when it comes to property pricing.

Here, properties located near MRT stations or bus interchanges and schools can often command considerable premiums.

New Cross-island MRT line will not materialise

On a 721.5 km2 island where majority of the 5.79 million population travel by public transport, the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) network connect most parts of Singapore, intersecting at various stations in the central part of the island.

There are currently 5 MRT lines and 3 LRT lines in Singapore:

  • North-South Line
  • East-West Line
  • North East Line
  • Circle Line
  • Downtown Line
  • Bukit Panjang, Sengkang and Punggol LRT lines

The upcoming addition to the MRT network is the Thomson-East Coast Line which will be ready in stages from 2019.

The Cross-Island MRT line was mooted in 2014 but the recent assessment has deemed the costs of an express train service unfeasible.

The assessment conducted by the authorities have revealed that less than 5% (or fewer than 30,000 people) on the Cross-Island line’s projected 600,000users will see time-savings of at least 15 minutes by using an express train service.

Does the Cross Island Line overlap with other existing MRT lines and stations?

The Cross Island Line (CRL) was supposed to be an express line that would connect passengers from as far as Changi, Loyang and Pasir Ris to Ang Mo Kio, Clementi, West Coast and Jurong.

While careful research for the exact alignment for the Cross-island Line is still being conducted, the authorities have made the decision not to proceed with the express train service along these lines as the cost of building additional tunnels, tracks and signalling systems will outweigh the savings. These costs will in turn be transferred to taxpayers.

Artist impression of the HSR terminus in Jurong East by Farrells.

The land area the project requires may also affect future housing or urban developmental plans. The CRL was originally meant to connect residents in Southern Malaysia to travel out of Singapore instead of Kuala Lumpur as it would have been linked to the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High-Speed Rail (HSR). With the postponement of the HSR, the CRL may function more as a train service to benefit locals rather than a cross-country mode of transport.

The aim of the Cross-Island MRT line is to connect business areas in the Eastern and Western parts of the country, such as the Changi Logistics Park to the Jurong Lake District and Jurong Industrial Estate. Whether this move will affect property prices along the originally planned route is yet indeterminable.

Would this MRT line have enhanced the quality of life for residents living along it?

Perhaps so. But the existing connections between the East-West line and North-South line, for example, are still able to quite easily connect passengers from the North-east areas of the island to the Eastern or Western regions.

While property prices nearer MRT stations tend to be higher than those in the outlying areas, the effect is usually more pronounced in mature estates or districts with more varied property types.

The CRL will, however, pass through the North-eastern parts of the country, through townships such as Ang Mo Kio and Punggol. The question that now remains is whether to tunnel under or around the Central Catchment Nature Reserve (CCNR).

Will this new MRT line level the playing field as more areas will be well-connected via the train system?

Population growth may have slowed this year, but it will continue to grow, creeping slowly but surely towards the 6 million mark.

Would injecting more funds into revamping and maintaining existing MRT lines be more efficient than building new ones as the country forges well into the 21st century?

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