Controversy over Cross Island Line: 9 questions about the MRT line answered

There has been much debate over whether the Cross Island Line should tunnel under the Central Catchment Nature Reserve.
Chew Hui Min Straits Times 22 Feb 16;
SINGAPORE - There has been much debate about the Cross Island Line and whether a 2km stretch of the line should tunnel under Singapore's largest nature reserve.

The Land Transport Authority (LTA) is considering two options for the line - one which goes under the Central Catchment Nature Reserve, and one which skirts the reserve but adds an estimated $2 billion in costs.

Owners of homes and businesses in central Singapore are concerned that they will be affected, while green groups have been lobbying hard for Singapore's wildlife and nature to be preserved.

Here are nine questions about the MRT line answered:

1. WHEN WAS IT ANNOUNCED?

The Cross Island Line, which will be the eighth MRT line in Singapore, was announced in January 2013.

It was the most ambitious part of a plan to almost double Singapore's rail network by 2030, and to place eight out of 10 households within a 10-minute walk of a train station.

The Jurong Region Line and extensions to the Circle Line, North-East Line and Downtown Line were also announced at the same time.

2. WHEN IS IT EXPECTED TO BE READY?

It is expected to open in 2030.

3. WHY IS IT NECESSARY?

The Cross Island Line will provide commuters with an alternative to the current East-West Line. It will also complement the Circle Line by being a "key transfer line" linking to other major MRT lines.

4. HOW LONG IS IT?

It is a 50km MRT line that will span Jurong to Changi.

Singapore's longest MRT line, the East-West Line, is 57km long.

5. WHICH MAIN AREAS WILL IT SERVE?



It will connect Changi and Jurong Industrial Estate, passing through Loyang, Pasir Ris, Hougang, Ang Mo Kio, Sin Ming, Bukit Timah, Clementi and West Coast. The line will also have a fork that links Pasir Ris to Punggol.

The exact locations for the stations have not been determined.

6. WHAT OTHER MRT LINES WILL IT LINK?

It will have interchanges at all existing radial lines so it will relieve loads on these systems - in particular the North-East and East-West lines.

Radial lines are train routes linking the city with the suburbs.

7. WHAT IS THE EXPECTED COST?

The total cost is yet to be determined. A 9km-long alternative alignment, which does not go through the Central Catchment Nature Reserve, could add about $2 billion to the project, LTA said.

8. WHAT ARE THE TWO ROUTES BEING CONSIDERED?

* The Direct alignment involves building a 2km tunnel approximately 40m deep beneath the nature reserve's MacRitchie area. There will be no physical structure on the surface level.

Related Story
From The Straits Times Archives: All you need to know about the Cross Island Line

Preliminary plans showed it cutting under primary and secondary forests in the nature reserve near MacRitchie Reservoir.

The nature reserve is Singapore's largest patch of primary rainforest. It is home to at least 413 species of plants, 218 species of birds, 30 mammals, 24 freshwater fish species, and 17 species of amphibians.

* The Skirting alignment is a 9km route that skirts south of the reserve, and will go under homes and businesses, with supporting ventilation facilities on the surface level.

The second option will increase end-to-end travel time by about four minutes and may entail land acquisition.

It will run beneath a swathe of private homes near Upper Thomson Road, such as Windsor Park and Yew Lian Park. It then turns west under Lornie Road before heading northwards, parallel to the Pan-Island Expressway.

9. WHAT DOES THE ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT STUDY SAY?

As the line will affect the nature reserve, a global environmental consultancy was hired to assess the environmental impact of constructing it. The study began in July 2014, and the portion released in early February 2016 is Phase 1 of the study.

Phase 1 evaluates the impact of planned soil investigation works. These works are required to help the LTA determine if the ground is suitable for tunnel construction.

The study has found that there will be "moderate" impact on the nature reserve if mitigating measures, such as the use of enclosures to reduce engine noise and tanks to collect discharge, are effectively carried out.

For the alternative route around the reserve, the impact of soil investigation works along Lornie Road was deemed to be "negligible", and "minor" for areas near Venus Drive and a golf course.

The 1,000-page environmental impact assessment report is available for viewing online at the LTA's website.

Phase 2 of the study, to be completed by the end of this year, will look at the environmental impact of the construction and operation of the MRT line for the different possible alignments in or around the nature reserve.

From The Straits Times Archives: All you need to know about the Cross Island Line
Straits Times 22 Feb 16;

SINGAPORE - The proposed alignment of the new Cross Island Line, which could run through the Central Catchment Nature Reserve, has sparked heated debate.

The 50km MRT line, which will link Changi and Jurong when it is completed by 2030, was first announced in early 2013.

Here's a look at what the controversy is about.

1. WHEN WAS THE PLAN ANNOUNCED?

Cross Island Line is most ambitious yet

Singapore is embarking on its most ambitious MRT project yet: the 50km Cross Island Line (CRL), expected to be ready by 2030.

While it is not the longest line here - that is the 57km East-West Line - it could be the first in Singapore to have trains with more than six carriages.

The Land Transport Authority (LTA) would not confirm this, merely saying that the CRL will be “a heavy-load system”.

The CRL will also pass through densely built up areas such as Sin Ming, Ang Mo Kio, Hougang and Clementi.

READ MORE HERE: Cross Island Line is most ambitious yet, It could be first in Singapore to have trains with more than six carriages, Christopher Tan Straits Times 18 Jan 13;

2. WHY ARE THE NATURE GROUPS WORRIED?

Studies for Cross Island Line to start

While the Cross Island Line is expected to be ready only in 2030, studies will start at the end of this year to plan for Singapore's most ambitious MRT project yet.

The 50km line runs from Tampines to Jurong, passing through densely built-up areas such as Sin Ming, Hougang, Clementi, and beneath the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve and Central Catchment Area.

The LTA is planning well ahead of time because contractors will need to dig deeper underground in land-scarce Singapore for new rail projects.

READ MORE HERE: Cross Island Line: Impact on nature to be studied, LTA: No decision on route at largest nature reserve until assessment done, Royston Sim Straits Times 12 Sep 13;

Nature Society suggests different route for Cross Island Line

Running the planned Cross Island MRT Line along Lornie Road instead of through Singapore's largest nature reserve would add just 2km and four minutes to travel time.

That would help reduce the damage to the reserve's ecosystem, the Nature Society (Singapore) suggested in a 40-page paper giving its take on the new line.

The position paper, released yesterday, also described the environmental damage that may be caused by the soil investigations and tunnelling needed for the 50km MRT project, which is expected to be ready in 2030.

READ MORE HERE: Nature Society suggests different route for MRT line, Cross Island Line works put nature reserve 'at risk', Grace Chua Straits Times 19 Jul 13;

3. WHAT DID THE LTA DO TO ADDRESS THESE CONCERNS?

Cross Island Line: Impact on nature to be studied

A study to investigate the environmental impact of the Cross Island Line (CRL) on Singapore's largest nature reserve will begin next year.

The Land Transport Authority (LTA) yesterday said it will call a tender in the first quarter of next year for the assessment, which will help it decide if this MRT line should pass through the Central Catchment Nature Reserve or skirt around it.

Apart from investigating the impact of possible alignments, the consultant will also have to suggest how to reduce any possible negative impact and come up with guidelines on suitable ways to carry out works such as soil investigation in the reserve.

READ MORE HERE: Cross Island Line: Impact on nature to be studied, LTA: No decision on route at largest nature reserve until assessment done, Royston Sim Straits Times 12 Sep 13;

Study begins on green impact of Cross Island Line

A global environmental consultancy has clinched a $2 million job to find out the impact that a future MRT line might have on the Central Catchment Nature Reserve.

Environmental Resources Management (ERM), which has offices in 40 countries, will start immediately on an environmental impact assessment of the Cross Island Line, slated to serve several areas including Bukit Timah and Ang Mo Kio.

Going by the proposed alignment, the 50km line that stretches from Changi to Jurong will cut through a southern tip of the nature reserve.

READ MORE HERE: Study begins on green impact of future MRT line, Team will assess Cross Island Line’s possible impact on nature reserve, Christopher Tan Straits Times 5 Jul 14;

4. WHAT IS THE OUTCOME OF THE STUDY?

Cross Island Line: Site tests will be green


An aerial view of the four reservoirs in the Singapore central catchment area. PHOTO: ST FILE
Tests to see how a train tunnel through Singapore's largest and most important nature reserve can be built have been slated for the third quarter.

The impact on the animals and plants around the test sites can be kept to "moderate" levels, said the Land Transport Authority (LTA) yesterday without going into detail, citing the findings of an independent environmental study.

The study suggested several strategies to mitigate the impact to flora and fauna, including the use of enclosures to reduce engine noise, and tanks to collect discharge.

READ MORE HERE: Cross Island Line: Site tests will be green, Audrey Tan and Adrian Lim, Straits Times AsiaOne 5 Feb 16;

5. WHERE CAN I FIND THE FULL REPORT OF THE STUDY?

LTA's environment report for Cross Island Line now online after complaints that it was difficult to access

The report was open to the public, but to get information on a new environment impact assessment (EIA) for an upcoming MRT line, people had to make their way to the Land Transport Authority's Hampshire Road premises to read the 1,000-page hard copy, with no photography allowed.

Yesterday, after complaints that it was too difficult to access the study, which looked at the potential impact of soil works for the Cross Island Line if it cut through the Central Catchment Nature Reserve, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) put it online.

"In response to feedback, LTA has made the EIA report available online for interested parties who are unable to come to LTA to view the documents," the authority said in a Facebook post yesterday.

READ MORE HERE: LTA puts 1,000-page environmental study online after people complained it was inconvenient to access, Audrey Tan Straits Times 19 Feb 16;

6. ARE THE NATURE GROUPS HAPPY WITH THE FINDINGS?

Call for 'zero impact' for Cross Island MRT Line under MacRitchie nature reserve

Renewing calls for the Government to rethink possible plans to build an MRT tunnel under Singapore's largest nature reserve, several green groups are banding together to ensure their message gets across loud and clear.

Next month, the Love Our MacRitchie Forest volunteer group and the Herpetological Society of Singapore are among those hoping to raise awareness about the issue through a "March for MacRitchie" campaign.

The moves come even as engineers say that contractors have the tools to moderate harmful impacts on the environment.

READ MORE HERE: Call for 'zero impact' for MRT line under MacRitchie nature reserve, Green groups want MRT line to go around while engineers say impact can be reduced, Audrey Tan Straits Times 14 Feb 16; and AsiaOne

7. HOW DO THE RESIDENTS IN THE AREA FEEL?

Cross Island Line sparks residents' fears

Even as green groups lobby for the Cross Island Line (CRL) to be built around Singapore's largest nature reserve instead of cutting through it, residents are worried about the impact this will have on their homes and lives.

The proposed 9km option, which skirts the Central Catchment Nature Reserve, will run beneath a swathe of private homes near Upper Thomson Road, such as Windsor Park and Yew Lian Park. It then turns west under Lornie Road before heading northwards, parallel to the Pan-Island Expressway.

The Land Transport Authority (LTA) has said that it is studying both alignments for the CRL, a 50km line connecting Changi to Jurong and expected to open in 2030.

READ MORE HERE: Cross Island Line sparks residents' fears, Adrian Lim Straits Times 21 Feb 16;

8. WHAT ARE SOME OTHER VIEWS ON THIS ISSUE?

ST Senior Transport Correspondent Christopher Tan: Cross Island Line debate misses elephant in room

The proposed alignment of the new Cross Island Line, which could run through the Central Catchment Nature Reserve, has sparked heated debate.

While we must do what we can to preserve our natural heritage, we should not shy away from taking hard decisions, if necessary. That has been the pragmatism Singapore prides itself on.

But is building an MRT line under Singapore's largest nature reserve necessary?

READ MORE HERE: Cross Island Line debate misses elephant in room, Christopher Tan Straits Times 16 Feb 16;

ST's Audrey Tan: Cross Island Line: Why Singapore forests are worth safeguarding

How much do we value our forests, and are they worth protecting?

"Not really, there is nothing to see in our forests... so I would say, build away," a banker friend told me. Another added that to get his nature fix, there are far better alternatives overseas.

These are typical answers I get when I ask laymen about the possibility of the Cross Island Line tunnelling under Singapore's largest nature reserve.

READ MORE HERE: Why our forests are worth safeguarding, Audrey Tan Straits Times 18 Feb 16;

9. WHAT'S LTA'S RESPONSE TO THESE VIEWS?

$2b extra cost if Cross Island Line skirts Central Catchment Nature Reserve

The alternative alignment that routes the Cross Island Line (CRL) around the Central Catchment Nature Reserve (CCNR) could add about $2 billion to the rail project, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) has revealed.

This 9km-long "skirting alignment" will require longer tunnels and extra ventilation facilities, it said, compared with the 4km direct route, of which 2km will cut through Singapore's largest nature reserve.

"Besides land and home acquisitions that could affect families, the extra works could incur $2 billion more in expenditure," said LTA chief executive Chew Men Leong.

READ MORE HERE: Cross Island Line: Path around reserve may cost $2 billion more, Adrian Lim, MyPaper AsiaOne 22 Feb 16;

Both possible alignments for Cross Island Line will be studied

We thank all writers who have shared their views on the two possible alignments of the Cross Island MRT Line (CRL).

The Government is studying both underground alignments, and no decision has been taken yet.

For the 4km direct alignment, 2km of the tunnel will be below the Central Catchment Nature Reserve (CCNR), while the other 2km is located outside it.

READ MORE HERE: LTA: Both possible alignments for CRL being studied, Straits Times Forum 21 Feb 16;


Related links
Love our MacRitchie Forest: walks, talks and petition. Also on facebook.

No comments:

Post a Comment