Heritage and nature abound at the Rail Corridor, parts of which will open by 2021

Audrey Tan Straits Times 21 Oct 17;

SINGAPORE - A walk down memory lane awaits visitors to a central stretch of the Rail Corridor by 2021, when a 4km portion of it is opened to the public.

Enhancement works along the stretch of the corridor between the Hillview area and the Bukit Timah Railway Station will start in 2018. This was announced by the National Parks Board (NParks) and Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) on Saturday (Oct 21).

The works will be done progressively in phases, but will be completed by 2021. Visitors to the Rail Corridor (Central) can expect to see existing railway heritage structures, such as the conserved steel truss railway bridge spanning Upper Bukit Timah Road and a track of steel girdle bridge across Hindhede Road.

They will also get to enjoy the greenery and wildlife in the area. Due to the proximity of the Rail Corridor (Central) to the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, it is also rich in biodiversity. Animals spotted there include the Sunda scops owl and laced woodpecker, for example.

In 2016, the authorities conducted extensive consultations with residents, trail users, nature and heritage groups, to gather feedback on how they would like to shape the trail. Their suggestions include the conservation of heritage features to capture the railway's history, and for the Rail Corridor (Central) to have features that allow people to soak in the surrounding nature, such as viewing decks. There were also suggestions to have more community spaces.

Their ideas were taken on board, and URA and NParks are now exhibiting plans of the preliminary design for Rail Corridor (Central) at the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve Visitor Centre. The exhibition at the reserve will last until Oct 29, after which it will move to neighbouring constituencies, which could include Cashew and Ulu Pandan.

The 24km-long Rail Corridor stretches from Woodlands to Tanjong Pagar. It was formerly a railway line used for commuting and transporting goods between Singapore and the rest of the Malay Peninsula. It belonged to Malaysia but was returned to Singapore in 2011 - providing an opportunity for the authorities to turn it into a space for the community.

Bird scientist David Tan about the bird life found along Rail Corridor

Rail Corridor (Central) is the first portion of the Corridor to open to the public, due to its accessibility. The stretch is bound by Hillview and King Albert Park MRT stations.

The Rail Corridor will also intersect an upcoming Coast-to-Coast Trail, one of two new initiatives announced by NParks on Saturday.

The Coast-to-Coast trail is a 36km-long route spanning Coney Island in the North-East to Jurong Lake Gardens in the West. It will take users through a variety of parks, park connectors and urban spaces. From end-2018, visitors can explore this trail via a mobile app or DIY trail guide.

The trail, like the Rail Corridor, will intersect the new Nature Park Network - the other initiative announced by NParks on Saturday.

The network comprises 48km of trails and links up central nature areas, such as Chestnut and Windsor nature parks, as well as the Bukit Timah and Central Catchment Nature Reserves. This network aims to provide another avenue for people to explore nature, while easing visitorship on the nature reserves, which are full of sensitive habitats that form the core bastions of Singapore's native biodiversity.

An old concrete bridge, an existing structure part of the Rail Corridor’s heritage, along the trail. The bridge was for people to cross the railway to reach a kampung. ST PHOTO: AUDREY TAN
Mr Desmond Lee, Minister for Social and Family Development and Second Minister for National Development, was guest of honour at the launch of Rail Corridor (Central) preliminary plans on Saturday. "Singapore is a city in a garden that is committed to integrating greenery with our urban landscapes through careful, intentional planning," he said.

"These spaces do not serve merely as respite from our urban landscape; there is immense potential for these spaces to be a repository of shared memories and experiences, and to connect communities."


Parts of Rail Corridor to open by 2021 with enhanced offerings and amenities
Liyana Othman Channel NewsAsia 21 Oct 17;

SINGAPORE: By 2021, part of the 24km Rail Corridor from Tanjong Pagar to Woodlands will be enhanced to give trail users a better experience.

This was announced by the government agencies spearheading the project, the National Parks Board (NParks) and the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA), on Saturday (Oct 21).

Landmarks along the 4km stretch from Bukit Timah to Hillview will be restored. For example, the conserved Bukit Timah Railway Station will be converted into a heritage gallery and visitor centre, while the public can rest and refill their hungry stomachs at an F&B outlet at the nearby station master’s quarters.

NParks and URA said this is in response to feedback from the public, who noted there are currently no such amenities along the stretch.

Following the handover of the railway land from Malaysia-owned Keretapi Tanah Melayu Berhad to Singapore authorities in 2011, URA has been consulting the community to find out how the area could be improved to meet their needs.

In 2015, a Request for Proposal was awarded to a Japanese company Nikken Sekkei to develop a masterplan from the ideas. And last year, the community, again, was sought out to refine those ideas.

Some feedback include making the Rail Corridor more accessible for people with disabilities, as well as more bite-sized activities for those who only want to experience part of the long trail.

One proposal is to restore the Hillview bridge, which was removed in 2011, so the public can experience the entire corridor without having to get off the trail and cross the road to continue their journey. Infrastructure like bridges and steel tracks will also be strengthened and protected.

There will also be lookout points along the stretch, as well as biodiversity enhancements. Guided walks will also be organised to familiarise people with the trail. Enhancement works will commence next year, and will be completed in phases by 2021.

This stretch of the Rail Corridor will also be part of a new islandwide curated trail. The Coast-to-Coast Trail spans 36km, connecting Jurong Lake Gardens in the west to Coney Island Park in the northeast through a series of parks and via the Park Connector Network.

The Coast-to-Coast trail will intersect another new NParks initiative – the Nature Park Network.

It is a 48km trail that links up nature areas in central Singapore, like the Bukit Timah and Central Catchment Nature Reserves. This aims to ease visitor pressure on nature reserves which are rich in biodiversity, while still allowing people to enjoy nature.

Channel NewsAsia understands that additional trails and connectors will be built to link up all the parks in the network.

From end 2018, visitors can explore the trail on their own using an app.

The public can share their thoughts at roving exhibitions, or online at nparks.gov.sg/railcorridor/share-your-thoughts until Dec 21.
Source: CNA/rw


Take a peek at plans for Rail Corridor by 2021
Audrey Tan Straits Times 22 Oct 17;

By 2021, visitors trekking a stretch of the Rail Corridor will have a walk down memory lane when a 4km portion of it is spruced up.

Enhancement works along the corridor between the Hillview area and Bukit Timah Railway Station will start next year and be done in phases, the National Parks Board (NParks) and Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) said.

The stretch, named Rail Corridor (Central), will retain its rustic vibe, based on preliminary plans unveiled yesterday by NParks and URA.

Visitors will be able to soak in nature and take in sights of former railway structures, such as the old steel truss railway bridges.

The plans include amenities such as a heritage gallery-cum-visitor centre and community lawns, as well as a stopover point with some refreshments.

Visitors will also be able to spot wildlife, including birds like laced woodpeckers or striped tit-babblers, from viewing decks. The trail will be also be planted with understorey vegetation such as ferns and shrubs.

The preliminary plans for Rail Corridor (Central) are on display at an exhibition at the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve Visitor Centre till next Sunday. People can give their feedback on the plans online on the NParks website from now until Dec 21.

The plans were drawn up following consultations between the Government and residents, trail users, and nature as well as heritage groups last year.

VAST POTENTIAL

These spaces do not serve merely as a respite from our urban landscape; there is immense potential for these spaces to be a repository of shared memories and experiences, and to connect communities.

MR DESMOND LEE, Minister for Social and Family Development and Second Minister for National Development.
The agencies said yesterday that they will study the comments and improve the proposal before commencing works.

The 24km-long Rail Corridor stretches from Woodlands to Tanjong Pagar. It was formerly a railway line used for commuting and transporting goods between Singapore and the rest of the Malay peninsula.

It belonged to Malaysia but was returned to Singapore in 2011 - providing an opportunity for the authorities to turn it into a space for the community.

Mr Desmond Lee, Minister for Social and Family Development and Second Minister for National Development, was guest of honour at the launch of the preliminary plans for Rail Corridor (Central).

"Singapore is a city in a garden that is committed to integrating greenery with our urban landscapes through careful, intentional planning," he said.

"These spaces do not serve merely as a respite from our urban landscape; there is immense potential for these spaces to be a repository of shared memories and experiences, and to connect communities."

Mr Wong Yuen Lik, a resident of Fuyong Estate, which borders the stretch of the Rail Corridor, welcomed efforts to spruce up the area.

"People should be able to visit the place for more than just the greenery," said the 46-year-old adventure consultant.

He hopes a heritage trail can be added within the Fuyong neighbourhood to showcase its history.

"Other than heritage structures, they should also be able to have a look at living history - the Fuyong Estate is the only residential estate located nearby," he said.

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