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Another victim of the pandemic

The completion of the six stations in the second stage of the Thomson-East Coast Line (TEL) will be delayed by three months due to the impact of Covid-19, said Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung yesterday.


Hence, the stations - from Springleaf to Caldecott - will open only in the first quarter of next year, having initially been scheduled to open later this year.


Argh. I had been looking forward to the opening of the stations as the one bright thing to happen in this utterly abysmal year. Alas, it is not to be.


The Land Transport Authority (LTA) said in January that the second stage of the TEL was about 90 per cent complete and was on track to open in the later part of this year.


But Mr Ong said in a written reply to Workers’ Party MP Jamus Lim (Sengkang GRC) yesterday that the circuit breaker period between April and June, along with the phased reopening afterwards, had caused delays to the completion.


Most construction work was suspended during the circuit breaker.


Associate Professor Lim also asked whether there would be any spillover delays to other major planned MRT projects.


Mr Ong said: “Unlike the TEL2 which is near completion and prioritised for resumption of work, we will only be able to better assess the length of delays on subsequent phases of TEL and other MRT projects when construction activities have more fully resumed.”


That sounds like a yes...


He added that the Government remains committed to significantly expanding the MRT network, from around 230km today to 360km by the early 2030s. This includes opening the remaining stages of the TEL and completing the circle with Circle Line Stage 6. It also includes the building of the North East Line extension, Jurong Region Line and Cross Island Line.


The TEL, which was originally set to be completed in 2024, will span 43km and serve about 500,000 commuters daily in its initial years.


It is Singapore’s sixth MRT line, with a total of 32 new stations, including eight interchange stations.


Two interchange stations - Caldecott and Bright Hill - are under the second phase of the line.


The first stage of the line, comprising Woodlands North, Woodlands, and Woodlands South MRT stations, opened in January.


About 100,000 households will benefit from the first two phases of the line, according to previous estimates by the LTA.


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Some photos I took of Stage 1 of the Thomson-East Coast Line in early February, soon after it opened:

The vast platform of Woodlands North MRT Station.
Woodlands North.
The Thomson-East Coast Line section of Woodlands MRT Interchange.
The interior of a Kawasaki Heavy Industries & CRRC Qingdao Sifang CT251 train, which is the rolling stock for the new line.
Woodlands South MRT Station.

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