Adrian Lim Straits Times 29 Feb 16;
SINGAPORE - The 50km Cross Island Line (CRL) will be an important part of Singapore's rail network, with about 30 stations - most of them interchanges - that will offer commuters many travel options, Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan said.
Spanning from east to west and serving residential areas such as Loyang, Pasir Ris, Hougang, Ang Mo Kio, Sin Ming, Bukit Timah, Clementi and West Coast, commuters will make at least 600,000 trips on the CRL every day, Mr Khaw told Parliament on Monday.
He was replying to a question from Mr Louis Ng (Nee Soon GRC) about the two proposed alignments of the CRL - one of which will cut through the Central Catchment Nature Reserve (CCNR) and the other to skirt around it.
Mr Khaw said that no decision has been made on which alignment will be chosen.
But noting the CRL's importance, he said the line will "significantly enhance" the rail network's resilience, and with 600,000 trips a day, its capacity and usage will far exceed that of the North-East Line. The CRL is expected to be completed in 2030.
Mr Khaw said that the longer 9km route around the CCNR will incur an extra travel time of 6 minutes, compared to the more direct 4km route that will go under the nature reserve.
Suggesting that commuters have high expectations of train efficiency, Mr Khaw quipped that in a minute of delay, a commuter could post 100 times on Twitter to "flame" the Land Transport Authority and the rail operator.
The six minutes of extra travel time, he said, could not be simply "brushed aside".
Dispelling the notion that the skirt-around would serve more residents, as it would go through estates in Upper Thomson, Mr Khaw said residents are already served by the Circle Line and the upcoming Thomson-East Coast Line.
Additionally, he said this alignment would require longer tunnels and hence ventilation facilities on the surface. This option could incur around $2 billion more in expenditure, and could result in land acquisitions, he added.
For the 4km direct alignment option, 2km will be deep below the CCNR at about 40m or 12 stories below ground level, and there will be no construction of infrastructure at the surface level within the CCNR, Mr Khaw said.
He said that more environmental and technical studies will be carried out, and only after that will an informed decision be made.
This will take into account the "potential impact on the nature reserve, the travelling distance and time for commuters, the cost to taxpayers, and the potential acquisition of homes and businesses", he added.
Khaw fleshes out plan for new 30-station MRT line
Adrian Lim, The Straits Times AsiaOne 1 Mar 16;
The 50km Cross Island Line (CRL) will be an important part of Singapore's rail network, Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan said.
Nearly half of its 30 stations from east to west will be interchanges to other MRT lines, offering commuters many travel options, he added.
Mr Khaw told Parliament yesterday that the line will serve residential areas such as Loyang, Pasir Ris, Hougang, Ang Mo Kio, Sin Ming, Bukit Timah, Clementi and West Coast, and commuters will make at least 600,000 trips on it daily.
But as to whether the underground CRL will be built through the Central Catchment Nature Reserve (CCNR) or route around it - an issue of contention - Mr Khaw said more environmental and engineering studies, along with public consultations, must be done.
These may take over two more years, before a decision on the alignment can be made, Mr Khaw said, in reply to questions from Mr Louis Ng (Nee Soon GRC) about the CRL.
An Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report to study the effects of site investigation works, released last month, itself took two years to complete.
Mr Khaw said the CRL, which is expected to be ready by 2030, will "significantly enhance" the MRT network's resilience, and its capacity and usage will far exceed that of the existing North-East Line.
He also said the longer 9km skirt around the CCNR will incur an extra travel time of six minutes, compared with the more direct 4km route running underneath the reserve.
Alluding to high public expectations of the MRT, Mr Khaw quipped that in a minute's delay, a commuter could post 100 times on Twitter to "flame" the Land Transport Authority and the rail operator.
This extra six minutes could not just be "brushed aside", he said.
Mr Ng said the skirt-around alignment would serve more commuters, but Mr Khaw replied that residents in the area are already served by the Circle Line and the future Thomson-East Coast Line.
Mr Khaw also said a skirt-around alignment would need longer tunnels and ventilation facilities on the surface. This option would cost $2 billion more and could result in land acquisitions.
But for the direct alignment option, 2km will be deep below the CCNR at about 40m - or 12 storeys - below ground level, and there will be no structures built at the surface level, Mr Khaw said.
Mr Ng also asked for the total cost of the CRL project, and which houses and buildings will be acquired.
Mr Khaw replied that it was still too early to know these details, and a second phase of EIA, to look into the impact of construction and running of trains underneath the nature reserve, will be done.
He urged Singaporeans not to take a biased approach to the issue, noting that some comments on the first EIA have been "very toxic".
"Keep an open mind, go with the facts. Keep an open mind and look for the evidence," he said. Parliament resumes today.
Two more years before decision on Cross Island Line: Khaw Boon Wan
The transport minister said it may take two more years to complete the environment and technical studies, as well as public consultations to reach a decision on the Cross Island Line project.
Channel NewsAsia 29 Feb 16;
SINGAPORE: It may take two more years to complete the environment and technical studies, as well as public consultations needed for the Government to reach a decision on the Cross Island Line project and its exact alignment, said Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan.
The studies and consultations will “adequately factor in all views”, taking into account “the potential impact on the nature reserve, the travelling distance, the time for commuters, the cost to taxpayers, and the potential acquisitions of homes and businesses”, said the Coordinating Minister for Instrastructure, responding to questions on the Cross Island Line in Parliament on Monday (Feb 29).
The Cross Island Line had attracted much public debate after the first phase of an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) was released earlier this month, particularly from green groups concerned that part of the line may cause disruption to environment near the central catchment reserve.
Mr Khaw emphasised that two possible options are still being evaluated – a 4km “direct” option that will see 2km of the line going 40 metres or 13 stories below the central catchment reserve, and a 9km option that skirts the area, which may cost an additional S$2 billion.
He added that even though the first option goes directly under the central catchment reserve, there will be no construction at the surface level, while the second option – which requires a longer tunnel – will need ventilation shafts to be constructed at the surface. Land acquisitions may also be needed for the latter option.
"The Cross Island Line is a massive project and the Government will decide on its entire alignment only after making a total assessment, including financial viability, technical feasibility and other relevant considerations. The Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is only one of the many studies which we need to undertake to help us determine the best alignment for the stretch of the line in the vicinity of the Central Catchment Nature Reserve," said Mr Khaw.
MORE PUBLIC CONSULTATION NEEDED
MP for Nee Soon GRC Louis Ng wanted to find out the total construction cost for the line, and how much more – in percentage terms – the “skirting” option would cost.
“A short answer to both questions is: I don’t know yet,” said Mr Khaw.
He added: “In this particular instance, because of the interest of nature groups and the sensitivity of the possible impact of any work of this part of the (Cross Island) Line on the nature reserve that the issue now surfaces.
“For the next leg of the studies, if we are allowed to proceed with the site investigation, we will be doing much more public consultation, and that will allow us, LTA, to firm up on many of the answers to many of the questions that have yet to be answered.”
The 50km Cross Island Line, which will be the eighth MRT line in Singapore, will link Singapore’s eastern and western areas, from Changi to Jurong.
Mr Khaw said the line is expected to see 600,000 trips daily, and will have a higher capacity and greater usage compared to the existing North-East Line. Almost every other station on the 30-odd station line will be interchange stations, he added.
Cross Island Line travel time will take 6 minutes more with skirting route: Khaw
Nurul Azliah Yahoo News 29 Feb 16;
Choosing the skirting alignment for the construction of the Cross Island Line (CRL) tunnel at the Central Catchment Nature Reserve (CCNR) will cost commuters six minutes of additional travel time, said transport minister Khaw Boon Wan in parliament on Monday (29 Feb).
Khaw was responding to questions posed by Nee Soon GRC MP and wildlife activist Louis Ng on the environmental impact for the construction of the 50-km CRL, and whether the transport ministry would opt for the skirting alignment at the CCNR to cater to more residents.
“I’m not sure if we can brush aside extra six minutes just like that because for the MRT commuters, extra half a minute is terrible,” Khaw said.
“Because when the train has a disruption and there’s an extra one minute of delay, within that one minute (commuters) send out maybe 100 tweets to flame LTA or SMRT,” he added.
“In the real industry, they define disruption as anything that causes delay of more than five minutes, and six is more than five.”
The government has yet to decide whether to choose the 4km direct alignment or the 9km skirting alignment. In the first option, the route cuts through the CCNR by way of an underground tunnel, while in the second option, the line would be constructed underground along the perimeter of the reserve. The CRL is expected to be operational by 2030.
Khaw also said that the CRL, which will connect commuters from Changi to the Jurong Industrial Estate, will have more than 30 new stations with 600,000 daily trips made.
At almost every other station, commuters can switch to another line, which will “significantly enhance” the resilience of the network, Khaw said.
He reminded the House that the environmental impact assessment (EIA) focuses on just a section of the CRL, while the ministry has a duty to study the total impact of the line. This includes a study on environmental impact, effect on taxpayers and potential home acquisitions.
The government has no estimation on the total cost of the project currently as more studies have to be made, Khaw said. Such studies usually take four to five years for to be completed, he added.
On whether Singapore should opt for the skirting alignment to serve the residents living in the vicinity, Khaw said that the existing Circle Line and the upcoming Thomson Line will be available to serve them.
Changes to ground investigation methods to reduce environmental impact
Desmond Lee, senior minister of state for the ministry of national development, told Parliament that drilling machines used to create boreholes to collect rock and soil samples have been modified to reduce noise levels.
Ground investigators will be required to conduct checks only during the day so as to avoid disturbing nocturnal animals in the reserve. These investigators will also be required to use handheld equipment to manually collect data in the forests to make up for the planned reduction in the number of boreholes from 72 to 16.
The geophysical survey has been limited to a 100-meter wide corridor, and will not be carried out at streams, swamps and dense vegetation, said Lee.
Investigators will be supervised by the National Park Board to make sure they adhere to the measures, he added.
Cross Island Line a key node, so keep open mind: Khaw
Almost half of CRL’s 30 stations will serve as interchanges, says Transport Minister
LAURA PHILOMIN Today Online 1 Mar 16;
SINGAPORE — When completed around 2030, the 50-km Cross Island Line (CRL) — whose alignment is at the centre of a spirited public debate — will be a key part of Singapore’s MRT network, running through housing estates such as Pasir Ris, Hougang, Ang Mo Kio, Clementi and West Coast.
Almost half of the CRL’s 30 stations will serve as interchanges and commuters will make at least 600,000 trips daily on the line, based on preliminary estimates, revealed Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan in Parliament on Monday (Feb 29).
Describing the CRL as a “massive project”, he called on Singaporeans to keep “an open mind” and “go with facts”, as the authorities mull over a host of factors — including financial viability and technical feasibility — before deciding on the entire alignment. The process may take two more years, said Mr Khaw, who is also the Coordinating Minister for Infrastructure.
Debate over the best alignment option for the CRL and the potential impact on the Central Catchment Nature Reserve reignited after an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) EIA report was released last month.
Nee Soon GRC Member of Parliament Louis Ng tabled a question in Parliament, asking Mr Khaw what main factors are taken into consideration when deciding whether the CRL would pass under the nature reserve, and whether the Ministry of Transport would consider the alternative alignment along Lornie Road, “which will allow the MRT line to serve more residents and commuters in that vicinity” and protect the nature reserve and primary forest.
In response, Mr Khaw said that, while environmental groups have urged the Land Transport Authority (LTA) to align the line such that it skirts around the nature reserve instead of tunnelling under it, both the direct and skirting alignment options will have to be carefully considered.
The Government will take into account factors such as impact on commuting time.
The longer 9km route around the nature reserve would incur an extra travel time of six minutes over the more direct 4km route, which will go under the nature reserve. “I’m not so sure we can just brush aside six minutes just like that. For MRT commuters, (an) extra half a minute is terrible,” said Mr Khaw, who clarified that the extra travel time was longer than the four minutes previously estimated.
On the view that the skirting alignment could serve more residents, Mr Khaw pointed out that the area would already be served by the Circle Line and the upcoming Thomson-East Coast Line. “As the alignments can have a different impact on the environment, commuters, taxpayers, businesses and home owners, the Government has a responsibility to study both options thoroughly,” he said.
Noting that the capacity and usage of the CRL will be higher than the North East Line, Mr Khaw added that the new line — which will connect to other lines — will significantly enhance the resilience of the MRT network by providing commuters with “many more routing options”.
“There are many questions that remain unanswered. So what I urge of Singaporeans is this — keep an open mind, go with the facts … and look for the evidence,” he said.
Last week, TODAY reported that following the unprecedented release online of the Cross Island Line Phase One EIA, government agencies will consider doing the same for future reports, especially if there is significant public interest involved.
Speaking in Parliament on Monday, Senior Minister of State (National Development and Home Affairs) Desmond Lee reiterated how the LTA involved the nature groups in the process from the start, after they had raised concerns about the potential serious environmental impact that the CRL may have on the nature reserve. Over more than two years, the LTA consulted the nature groups extensively in preparing for Phase 1 of the EIA, Mr Lee said.
While LTA’s EIA consultant has rated the sensitivity of the nature reserve as “high”, the impact due to the site investigation was “small” due to the adoption of stringent mitigating measures proposed. These include reducing the number of boreholes to be drilled from 72 to 16, and limiting a geophysical survey to a 100m-wide corridor and away from sensitive locations such as streams, swamps and dense vegetation. National Parks Board officers will also be on site to supervise surveyors to minimise damage from trampling on plants, Mr Lee added.
CLARIFICATION: In an earlier version of this article, it was reported that most of the CRL's 30 stations will be serving as interchanges. The Ministry of Transport has clarified that the number of stations to serve as interchanges is almost half.
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CROSS ISLAND LINE: The skirting alignment option will cost about S$2 billion more to build. Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan says more investigations need to be carried out and urges the public to "keep an open mind". http://bit.ly/1T3Mn05
Posted by Channel NewsAsia Singapore on Sunday, 28 February 2016