Today, 28 August 2021, was the opening day of Stage 2 of the Thomson-East Coast MRT Line. Of course, we were out and about exploring all six new stations, from Springleaf to Caldecott.
TE4 🚇 Springleaf
Address: 825 Upper Thomson Road.
Named after: Springleaf Garden, a private residential estate to the east of the station.
Other names which had been put up for public voting in 2013: Nee Soon Village, Thong Soon.
Trivia: The MRT station lies next to the site of the former Nee Soon Village (hence one of the names suggested for public voting), which had existed since the mid-1800s. Springleaf Garden came about much later, around 1977.
Below is a map of the area in 1978, with Nee Soon Village shaded light blue.
Trivia II: The length of track between Woodlands South and Springleaf stations is estimated to be the second longest in Singapore’s MRT system, at around 4.5km, just ahead of Expo-Changi Airport (East West Line), which is around 4.42km, and Yew Tee-Kranji (North South Line), at around 3.97km.
The reason for the length of track? Between Woodlands South and Springleaf lie the sparsely-populated, largely out-of-bounds sites of Sembawang Air Base, Sembawang Golf Course, and Nee Soon Camp (below).
The longest distance between two MRT stations remains at around 4.75km for Khatib-Yio Chu Kang (North South Line).
Construction challenges: Construction of the station had to take place just 7 metres away from shophouses along Upper Thomson Road.
To prevent damage to the buildings, an earth retaining stabilising structure was built to prevent ground movement.
My exploration: After years of enduring noise and dust, the owners and occupiers of these shophouses should appreciate the station being right next to them!
Art in Transit artwork: Tree Of Memories, by Koh Hong Teng. It features a banyan tree in Springleaf Nature Park.
TE5 🚇 Lentor
Address: 1 Lentor Drive.
Named after: The cluster of roads starting with Lentor, serving the private residential estate north of the station. These roads include Lentor Road, Lentor Terrace, Lentor Loop, and so on.
Other names which had been put up for public voting: Lentor Green, Teachers’ Estate.
Trivia: The place name “Lentor” came from Lorong Lentor, a track off Yio Chu Kang Road, sited east of the present-day cluster of Lentor roads.
Lorong Lentor has been expunged, and the area, now forested, is off limits because it’s a military training ground.
“Lentor” is a corruption of the Malay word “lentur”, which means “flexible”.
Construction challenges: Construction required working around major telecommunication cables, and diverting a 1.2m-wide water pipe.
The new design of exit signs is a vast improvement over the old one.
Art in Transit artwork: Interlude, by Tan Guo-Liang.
TE6 🚇 Mayflower
Address: 91 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 4.
Named after: Mayflower Gardens, a private residential estate to the east of the station.
Other names which had been put up for public voting: Kebun Baru, Ang Mo Kio West.
Trivia: Mayflower Gardens - or Garden - was completed sometime around 1969, a few years before the HDB New Town of Ang Mo Kio came up around it.
Below is a map of the area in 1969, with Mayflower Garden shaded light blue.
Trivia II: Of the six new stations, Mayflower has the most exits - seven.
Construction challenges: The terrain surrounding the station is sloping, with a difference in elevation of 12 metres (4 storeys) from north to south. This made it difficult for boring rigs and cranes to be positioned safely.
This sign will be updated as further stages of the Thomson-East Coast Line open.
Mayflower’s seven exits.
From the fare gates, commuters have to take two escalators to reach the station platform.
Art in Transit artwork: An untitled piece by Song-Ming Ang. It comprises 22 sculptures of seven bird species placed around the station.
TE7 🚇 Bright Hill
Address: 100 Sin Ming Avenue.
Named after: Bright Hill Road, to the east of the station.
Other names which had been put up for public voting: Sin Ming, Bishan Park.
Trivia: Bright Hill Road was named after the historic Buddhist temple it currently serves, the Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Monastery, which was founded in 1920.
Below is a map of the area in 1945, with the monastery shaded light blue (“Ch” stands for “Chinese temple”). Ang Mo Kio New Town would come up around the monastery in the 1970s.
Bright Hill station is a short distance from the monastery.
“Kong Meng San” means “Bright Hill”, and in Buddhism, refers to the “Pure Land” of the bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara (Guan Yin), the celestial realm in which he or she resides.
Trivia II: Bright Hill will become an interchange in 2030, when it is connected to Phase 1 of the Cross Island Line, running from the station to Aviation Park in Changi.
Construction challenges: A retaining wall for boring had to be installed just 2 metres from Block 402 Sin Ming Avenue.
The terrain around the station consisted of hard granite rock, and it took more than a day to bore through 10cm of rock.
Art in Transit artwork: A Kaleidoscopic Nature, by anGie Seah.
TE8 🚇 Upper Thomson
Address: 1 Jalan Keli.
Named after: Upper Thomson Road, which runs by the station.
Other names which had been put up for public voting: Thomson Village, Thomson Park.
Trivia: “Thomson” refers to John Turnbull Thomson (1821-1884), an engineer and surveyor who had played a key role in the development of modern Singapore’s infrastructure in the 1840s.
Trivia II: Upper Thomson station joins Downtown station of the Downtown Line as the only two stations bearing the names of MRT lines.
Construction challenges: Construction required diversion of a canal.
Also, to minimise disruption to traffic along busy Upper Thomson Road, only one side of the two-way carriageway was closed during excavation.
Art in Transit artwork: Lost In Our (Concrete) Jungle, by Troy Chin. There are 88 drawings of monkeys spread all over the station - some more well-hidden than others!
TE9-CC17 🚇 Caldecott Interchange
Address: 1 Toa Payoh Link.
Named after: Caldecott Hill, to the west of the station.
Trivia: Caldecott Hill was named after British colonial administrator Sir Andrew Caldecott (1884-1951).
Trivia II: Of the six new stations, Caldecott is the deepest, at 35 metres below ground level.
Trivia III: Caldecott station of the Circle Line opened 10 years earlier, in 2011.
Construction challenges: Instead of the usual cut-and-cover method for construction, the tunnel was mined instead. Mining had to be done through a mixture of rock, weaker-than-usual soil, and groundwater.
Carrying out mining instead of cut-and-cover minimised disruption to roads such as Toa Payoh Link and Toa Payoh West above.
Escalators galore... to reach 35 metres below ground level.
Art in Transit artwork: :)(:, by Claire Lim. Hundreds of smiley faces were perforated into wall panels lining the station platform.
The Thomson-East Coast Line is served by CT251 trains manufactured by Kawasaki Heavy Industries and CRRC Qingdao Sifang.
Each car has fewer seats as compared to other lines.
Many thanks to my wife Tiak for accompanying me!
Looking forward to another 13 stations opening next year!