Best of our wild blogs: 18 Jan 13

Common Kingfisher: Comfort and feeding behaviour
from Bird Ecology Study Group

Sharing about our shores with Shell
from wild shores of singapore

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MRT network size to double by 2030

80% of homes here will be within 10-minute walk of a station by then
Christopher Tan Straits Times 18 Jan 13;

SINGAPORE'S train network is set to double in size over the next 17 years, with two new lines and three extensions announced yesterday.

The slew of new projects means 80 per cent of households will be no more than 10 minutes' walk from a station by 2030, said Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew.

They come on top of half a dozen others that are already in various stages of planning and construction.

The new projects will boost the size of the network to about 360km - the current size is 178km - and increase the proportion of households within a 10-minute walk of a station from the current 57 per cent. They are:

Cross Island Line, a 50km train line running from Changi in the east to Jurong industrial estate in the west.

In between, it will link towns and districts such as West Coast, Clementi, Bukit Timah, Sin Ming, Ang Mo Kio, Hougang and Pasir Ris. From Pasir Ris, it will have an offshoot that goes to Punggol - forming the first rail link between the two northern estates.

Jurong Region Line, a 20km H-shaped network targeted for completion by 2025.

It will link Choa Chu Kang, Tengah, Jurong East, West Coast, Boon Lay and Jurong West to the North-South and East-West lines. It is expected to have a stop at the Nanyang Technological University.

A 4km extension that will join the two southern ends of the orbital Circle Line, making it a complete circle by 2025.
A 2km extension of the North-East Line north of Punggol, to serve the future "new Punggol downtown" by 2030.
A 2km extension to link Downtown Line 3 to the future Eastern Region Line. When it is completed by 2025, commuters will be able to travel from Singapore Expo to Marine Parade in less than 10 minutes.

Planners are also considering building a new station on the North-South Line between Yishun and Sembawang stations to serve future mixed developments there. Speaking during a visit to Downtown Line 1's Chinatown station yesterday, Mr Lui said the denser network will not only give commuters better connectivity but will also create "a more resilient network that can better mitigate disruptions".

This means that if there is an incident on one line, commuters can switch to another fairly easily to continue their journey.

The minister said it will also allow parts of the network to be closed for extended periods for improvement works.

Asked if the timing of his announcement was in any way linked to the Punggol by-election, he said: "No, no, we've been planning to announce these for some time now. In any case, the new lines are not quite at the Punggol East SMC (single-member constituency). They will benefit everybody in Singapore."

Although no details of the cost were available as engineering studies have not started, observers estimate that the cost of the new lines - totalling 78km in length - could come to between $70 billion and $100 billion.

Government Parliamentary Committee for Transport chairman Cedric Foo said: "Some commuters will say that the completion date is not ambitious enough.

"But in adding some 180km of rail, there are many second-order effects that the Government needs to balance against. Some of which are disruptions, more foreign workers, the capacity of contractors and sub-contractors, demand for materials" and so on.

Mr Lui said the expanded network "will have more than the capacity needed to meet the expected increase in public transport ridership in the next two decades".

He added: "On the other hand, our response cannot always be to build more lines... we need to find other options, such as a more aggressive decentralisation strategy so that there is a better geographical balance of jobs and people."

He was referring to a plan spelt out as early as the 1980s to create regional centres such as Tampines and Jurong East to bring jobs closer to where people lived. One benefit is shorter, fewer commutes.

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;

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".

Currently the East-West, North-South and North-East lines have six-car trains while the others have three- or four-car trains. In other countries, eight- and 10-car trains are common.

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

This will pose engineering challenges and raise the possibility of property acquisitions, thus lifting the overall cost.

Mr Chong Kee Sen, vice-president of the Institution of Engineers, Singapore, said: "It really depends on the exact alignment, but if you're going through densely occupied areas, some acquisition may be unavoidable."

But construction methods might improve in the next few years to facilitate things not feasible now, he added.

The CRL will also cut through the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve and Central Catchment Area.

Observers said provisions must be made to minimise the environmental impact of construction.

Mr Rajan Krishnan, chief executive of engineering firm Kok Thong Holdings and former head of rail projects at the LTA, said it is not hard to ensure the plan will be sound environmentally. But he admits that a higher-capacity system and one that passes through dense developments can have cost implications.

"The first thing that struck me was that there are going to be a lot of projects going on between 2016 and 2018.

"That will exert a huge demand on resources and that will have an impact on cost."

He would not hazard a guess as to how much the line would cost, but said it will not be less than the Thomson Line, a four-car system that costs $600 million per km.

Government Parliamentary Committee for Transport chairman Cedric Foo said: "In a small island state, upgrading public transport is a strategic imperative and not a choice.

"Singaporeans should support it by bearing with the short-term inconveniences that come with such an ambitious project."

National University of Singapore's transport economist Anthony Chin added: "As we position ourselves as a liveable city competing for high-value jobs, the implications on land use will be tremendous. And we can't afford to build many more roads."

Commuter benefits will be significant. The line will have a fork that goes from Pasir Ris to Punggol - the first rail link between the two north-eastern towns.

Residents will be able to travel from one to the other in 10 to 15 minutes, compared with a 40-minute bus ride today.

This, according to the LTA, will form the first leg of yet another possible line: a so-called Northshore line to link up to Woodlands.

Punggol resident Noriezah Idris, 39, a logistics worker at Zuellig Pharma in Changi North, said: "It will be much more convenient for me in the future. Currently, I have to take two bus transfers to get to work."

The CRL 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.

But National University of Singapore transport researcher Lee Der-Horng said: "It is simply too far away for us to long for since we are talking about 17 years from now, if there is no delay.

"It'd be great if it can be expedited."

New Jurong rail line was mooted a decade ago
Jermyn Chow And Christopher Tan Straits Times 18 Jan 13;

THE new rail line linking up the Jurong area that will be ready by 2025 was mooted more than 10 years ago.

The Jurong Region Line was was actually first announced in 2001 by then Communications and Information Technology Minister Yeo Cheow Tong.

But the light rail system, which would have linked the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) to the East-West MRT Line's Boon Lay station and been called the Jurong Region LRT Line, was never built.

Transport observers said that low ridership then did not make an additional rail line in an area that is dotted with factories and prawn ponds feasible.

But today, western Singapore is buzzing with activity, with the new Jurong Gateway set to become a major commercial hub.

So a new 20km rail line will provide better connectivity for commuters who live, study and work within the area, said Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew yesterday.

They include NTU students and workers in Jurong Industrial Estate and Jurong Island.

Commuters can also bypass the Jurong East MRT interchange, which has become a choke point for commuters who have to switch to trains on the East-West Line to get to the city centre.

Mr Lui said the new line "will not only shorten their travel times, but also redistribute ridership" out of Jurong East station.

Better late than never, said Bukit Gombak resident Manoj Kumar, who has to jostle for space in a train every morning at the Jurong East MRT interchange to get to his Raffles Place workplace.

"It should have come earlier... it is madness trying to squeeze with everyone else to get on the trains," said the 42-year-old equity broker.

Jurong GRC MP Ang Wei Neng said he has heard similar complaints from other residents who say the road network and bus services in the area leave much to be desired.

With upcoming launches of new shopping malls, a hotel and offices in the Jurong area, Mr Ang welcomed the latest decision to build the Jurong Region Line.

And although the line will only be ready by 2025, Mr Ang said residents can look forward to more improvements to be made to bus services.

"We have to build in advance, not just for today's requirements," he said.

Singapore to have two new MRT lines by 2030
Hetty Musfirah Channel NewsAsia 17 Jan 13;

SINGAPORE: Singapore will have two new MRT lines, while three existing lines will be extended. These will double the rail network stretch to 360 kilometres, compared with the current 178 kilometres.

By then, eight in 10 households will have a train station within a 10-minute walk, compared with about six in 10 currently.

These plans for the rail network followed a review of the Land Transport Master Plan by the Land Transport Authority (LTA).

Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew announced the new developments when he visited Chinatown Station of the Downtown Line on Thursday.

The new lines are the Cross Island Line (CRL) and Jurong Region Line (JRL).

The CRL will run from Jurong Industrial Estate and pass through areas such as West Coast, Bukit Timah, Ang Mo Kio, Punggol and Pasir Ris before ending in Changi. The 50-kilometre line, which is expected to be completed by 2030, will be connected to all existing lines.

It is expected to relieve the load of the existing East-West and North-East lines and shorten journey times significantly.

Mr Lui said: "The eastern leg of the CRL will also include a segment that extends into the centre of Punggol. Residents in Punggol will be able to take a short cut to Pasir Ris, which is a popular and much demanded travel route, in only 10 to 15 minutes, compared to a 40 minute bus journey that they experience today."

The other new line -- Jurong Region Line -- will be completed in 2025. The 20-kilometre line will pass through areas such as Jurong West, Jurong Industrial District, West Coast, Choa Chu Kang and potential new developments in Tengah.

Those travelling from the North to Jurong, like students of Nanyang Technological University, can skip Jurong East Station on the East-West Line.

The LTA will conduct environmental impact and engineering studies to decide on the final alignment, the number of stations and the type of systems that will run on the new lines.

Separately, three existing lines -- the Circle Line (CCL), Downtown Line (DTL) and North-East Line (NEL) -- will be extended.

The CCL will be four kilometres longer -- to close the link between HarbourFront and Marina Bay stations and save commuters the hassle of making multiple transfers. The extension, which will also pass through Keppel, is expected to be completed by 2025.

The DTL will be two kilometres longer by 2025 -- to run through the East Coast area. It will be connected to the East West Line and the Eastern Region Line, which will be ready by 2020, so that commuters can transfer between the Downtown Line and Eastern Region Line in the east.

As for the NEL, two kilometres will be added by 2030 -- in tandem with new developments in Punggol -- to serve Punggol North, including the new Punggol Downtown.

The LTA is also exploring the possibility of an additional station between Sembawang and Yishun stations on the North-South Line, in anticipation of future developments in the area.

Mr Lui said all these changes promise not just faster and more convenient travel.

He said: "We will also have a more resilient network that can better mitigate disruptions in our MRT system and also allow us to shut down parts of the network for longer durations to carry out improvement works without causing too much inconvenience to commuters."

Mr Lui said the vision for Land Transport in the coming years is to have better connectivity and service to support an inclusive, liveable community.

He said the government will invest heavily to achieve this and provide a much better travel experience for Singaporeans.

He assured Singaporeans will feel a marked difference when new rail lines and new trains come into operation


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

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Does Jakarta Really Have a 5-Year Flood Cycle?

Ronna Nirmala & Lenny Tristia Tambun Jakarta Globe 14 Jan 13;

The claim that Jakarta’s floods follow a five-year cycle has been a persistent one, perpetuated by people ranging from occupants of high public office to bakso sellers plying their trade on the streets of the city.

Major floods in 2002 and 2007 prompted fears that either last year or this one would herald particularly nasty wet seasons, but now an academic at the Netherlands’ Utrecht University has debunked the claim as a myth.

“The probability of flooding occurring each year [in Jakarta] is 20 percent,” post-doctoral student Edwin Husni Sutanudjaja explained. He added that the so-called five-year cycle “is actually a bad interpretation ... of this statistic: flooding does not occur every five years, but every year, with a different quantity.”

Edwin said the city must conduct routine dredging to reduce the sediment of rivers running through Jakarta.

“Dredging needs to be done routinely each year; not just when the sediment is visible [above the water level],” he said.

Jakarta Governor Joko Widodo on Saturday instructed the city’s public works office to conduct dredging along the Kali Muara River in Penjaringan, North Jakarta, to save the local fishing community, which is hit by flooding annually.

Joko said he found many problems associated with the annual floods after visiting the area, and formulated plans to alleviate the problem.

“Starting with the overflow of streets, they should be raised by another 40 centimeters,” Joko said. “The Kali Muara must also be dredged, its sediments reduced so [fishing] boats can dock [in the river].”

Joko also noted problems with the area’s drainage system, which seems to not work during the flood season.

“So there are many problems. These problems are affecting their daily lives and must be solved,” he said. “These are [temporary] solutions, but to overcome the problems [in the long term] there must be a grand design. There must be other efforts.”

Jakarta has been hit with days of heavy rains sweeping across the area. The rain has caused water in some areas to overflow their drainage systems, creating crippling traffic in other parts of the capital.

The Jakarta public works agency also noted that the rain and overflow have damaged roads in more than 6,400 locations covering 2.7 kilometers in length.

The agency’s head of road and bridge maintenance, Maman Suparman, said his team has been collecting data of the severity of the damage the roads sustained including for the so-called “national roads.”

National roads are major streets or highways constructed and maintained by the Ministry of Public Roads.

Maman said that is would be useless to fix the roads during the rainy season.

“If it’s raining the asphalt won’t dry,” he explained. “Or the roads will get holes in them again if vehicles pass over the repaired areas.”

Among those people to previously voice the five-year claim was Coordinating Minister for People’s Welfare Agung Laksono, who in December told the Jakarta government to be vigilant of the cycle and take preventive measures.

“We hope the city can act quickly,” he said. “Bad weather and high-intensity rain is part of a five-year cycle and it is predicted that January or February will be marked by continuous heavy rains.”

Floods paralyze Indonesian capital, heavy rains continue
Fergus Jensen and Rieka Rahadiana PlanetArk 18 Jan 13;

Floods paralyze Indonesian capital, heavy rains continue

Heavy monsoon rain triggered severe flooding in large swathes of the Indonesian capital, Jakarta, on Thursday, bringing the city to a halt with many government offices and businesses forced to close because staff could not get to work.

At least 20,000 people were forced from their homes in the capital and weather officials warned the rain could get worse over the next few days.

"Rain will continue to fall in the greater Jakarta area ... the potential for flooding remains," a spokesman for the Meteorology Climatology Meteorology and Geophysics Agency told Reuters. He said rain was expected to remain heavy in mountains above Jakarta, often the source of floodwater.

Four people were reported to have been killed, according to the National Disaster Prevention Agency, which urged residents to stay at home to reduce traffic congestion on blocked roads.

Torrential rain was reported across much of the country, including the main island of Java and heavily agricultural area of southern Sumatra.

However, officials said there had been no reports of any serious damage to key crops such as rice, sugar and palm oil.

An estimated more than 175 mm (7 inches) of rain fell in one part of west Jakarta between 7 a.m. and midday.

"In 30 years of my life here it has never flooded, ever. This is the very first time," said Ninuk, 30, a resident of central Jakarta.

Floods even forced the country's anti-corruption agency to move some of its most prominent prison inmates, including a former deputy head of the central bank, to a notorious women's prison, Pondok Bambu, in east Jakarta, a spokesman said

The flooding will put pressure on the capital's popular new governor, Joko Widodo, who came to office last October with promises to work to fix a huge array of basic infrastructure problems that bedevil the city of about 10 million people.

"The government has to do something to prevent floods ... If it needs to build stronger dykes, then build them," said Syaiful Bakhri, a taxi driver whose car was stuck in the flood.

In the centre of Jakarta, where streets are jammed at the best of times, long lines of idled cars waited for waist-deep water to recede. An inflatable dinghy provided by emergency services ferried people to safety across water dividing the heart of the city.

The city's main airport was open but many roads leading to it were reportedly blocked. Most commuter trains and buses were suspended.

The Jakarta Stock Exchange did open but trading was light.

Flooding was even reported at the presidential palace, forcing the postponement of a meeting between President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and his visiting Argentine counterpart, Cristina Fernandez.

(Additional reporting by Michael Taylor and Janeman Latul; Writing by Jonathan Thatcher; Editing by Robert Birsel)

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