Best of our wild blogs: 31 Aug 13

Not for the faint-hearted: Internatioal Coastal Cleanup 2013 @ Kranji East mangrove
from Toddycats!

An analysis of the Short-tailed Babbler’s call
from Bird Ecology Study Group

Raffles Bulletin of Zoology Vol. 61 (2)
from Raffles Museum News

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Rail Corridor walking trail launched

Ayesha Shaikh Channel NewsAsia 30 Aug 13;

SINGAPORE: Acting Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Lawrence Wong on Friday launched a new walking trail along the Rail Corridor for Singaporeans to enjoy.

The trail is the fifth and the last in a series of walking trails known as the Resilience Trails.

360 students from 22 schools were the first to go on the 30-kilometre trail on foot and by bus.

They began the journey at Woodlands Waterfront and made their way across the black iron cast railway tracks at Bukit Timah before ending the walk at Tanjong Pagar railway station.

The five-hour long event emphasised the importance of friendly relations with neighbouring countries.

Singapore History Consultants’ director Jeya Ayadurai said: "(The walk shows) how important relationships are -- not only at the personal level, but also at the international level. So we even discuss Malaysia-Singapore relations within that context."

Jordan Teoh Jia Ern, a Fuhua Secondary School student, said: "This trail actually gives me a more in-depth view of what Singapore's history actually is and I would like to see how it… develops in future."

- CNA/gn

Trace S'pore's rail history on bus, foot
New heritage trail aims to emphasise importance of friendship, self-reliance
Yeo Sam Jo Straits Times 31 Aug 13;

BEHIND the quiet facade of the now-defunct Tanjong Pagar Railway Station lies a little-known dream that was never realised: The British once had a vision to extend the Malayan railway network from Singapore all the way to France.

This is one piece of esoteric trivia that can be picked up on a new educational trail launched yesterday. Called "Rail Corridor: Our Journey Together Through the Power of Friendship", it is the last in a series of five Resilience Trails focusing on Singapore's historic moments and achievements.

Conceived by the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth, and Singapore History Consultants, the trail traces landmarks along the old rail corridor that runs through Singapore to Johor, emphasising the importance of friendship and self-reliance.

For example, at Woodlands Waterfront, where the trail starts, participants can see Singapore and Malaysia's mutual dependency tangibly manifested in the water pipes, the railway and the Causeway.

Participants also travel along Woodlands Road and Bukit Timah Road, which was the route that the Japanese used to advance on the Allied forces during World War II. The trail also includes a section between Bukit Timah Nature Reserve and Mayfair Park estate, where participants can glimpse remnants of the communal kampung lifestyle.

In all, the 30km journey on bus and foot takes four to five hours to complete, and ends at Tanjong Pagar Railway Station in the south.

Some 360 students from 22 schools were the first to experience the trail yesterday, which was launched by Mr Lawrence Wong, Acting Minister for Culture, Community and Youth. "It is through trails like this that we are able to learn about Singapore's history, culture and heritage in a more meaningful and engaging way," Mr Wong said.

History teacher Samuel Goh, 28, who was there with his students, said: "I think it was good learning for the kids. It connected them to many things they didn't know about their own heritage and past."

Those interested in the Resilience Trails may find out more at

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Changi Coast Road to be replaced

Royston Sim Straist Times 31 Aug 13;

CHANGI Coast Road, a long scenic route much loved by cyclists, will be replaced by a new surface road that will hug the eastern coastline.

The existing road and park connector beside it will be paved over and become part of Changi Airport's integrated airfield that links Runway 2 and Runway 3.

Currently, it runs alongside the airfield for about 6km.

A new park connector will also be built along with the new road, which will merge with Tanah Merah Coast Road, run along the eastern coastline and then loop back towards Nicoll Drive.

Works on these changes are expected to start in the second half of next year, said the Land Transport Authority's (LTA) deputy chief executive Chua Chong Kheng yesterday.

Mr Chua did not say when the new road will be ready but The Straits Times understands it has to be completed by 2018.

Only then can the airport's Runway 3 be linked to Runway 2, a project observers say would take about two years.

Changi Airport is scheduled to have a three-runway system by around 2020, a move that will reinforce Singapore's status as a regional aviation hub.

Meanwhile, the existing Changi Coast Road will stay open until the new road is ready.

This new road is estimated to run for 5km to 6km longer than the stretch of Changi Coast Road that it will replace.

It is likely to give motorists access to the future Terminal 5.

Mr Chua said it will be wider than the existing road, which has two lanes in each direction.

The LTA earlier considered converting Changi Coast Road into a partially depressed roadway or tunnel, but found that to be less feasible than a new surface road.

Mr Chua noted that aside from the higher cost of going underground, roads below the surface would require ventilation buildings. These ventilation structures could go up to 40m in height, and would not only take up space but also affect safety.

There are also other safety and security issues to consider if the road runs beneath the airfield, he added. "If there are emergencies in the tunnel, you don't want to be evacuating onto the airfield."

Avid cyclist Jolly Liew, 47, is glad there will be a "replacement road, so our 'playground' will still be there".

Another cyclist, Mr Sidney Lim, 49, wants the authorities to make the new road safer for cyclists.

"If it's a longer route, that's even better. Cyclists here are always looking for a longer loop. Maybe the LTA can consider setting aside a lane for cyclists at certain times on weekends," he said.

Changi unveils plans for new mega T5
Options include a main facility and satellite terminals connected by rail
Karamjit Kaur Straits Times 31 Aug 13;

AMBITIOUS plans have been unveiled for Changi's mega new air terminal to cater for up to 50 million passengers a year, as Singapore moves decisively to seal the airport's premier hub status.

Terminal 5, which is slated for completion around 2025, will be bigger than the current Terminals 2 and 3 put together. It will take the form of either a huge single terminal building, or a smaller facility linked to a satellite terminal via an underground rail link.

T5 will be located at Changi East, in an area now separated from the current terminals by Changi Coast Road.

It will be linked to the rest of the airport and possibly house its own MRT station in future.

When completed, the giant addition will boost Changi Airport's maximum capacity to 135 million passengers a year, rivalling the busiest airports today.

This includes London's Heathrow, which handles about 70 million passengers a year.

Announcing the latest plans at a media briefing yesterday, Minister of State for Transport Josephine Teo, who leads a 10-member multi-agency committee looking into Changi's expansion, said the future is not just about growing in size. "We want to make it a better air hub," she said.

"The more cities that we are linked to, the more frequent the flights and the more efficient the transfers, then the greater the convenience that we can offer to passengers and the better we are as an air hub."

Industry watchers have said that this expansion is essential because many rival air hubs, including those in Asia, are planning to boost capacity in the coming years. So Changi must move quickly to capture a share of Asia's growing traffic and enhance capacity so that it can "build on its current leadership position", said Mrs Teo.

This is why the development at Changi East will include building a third runway to handle more flights. This runway will be operational around 2020, even before T5 opens.

New aircraft maintenance and repair facilities, as well as hotels and offices, will also be built at the site. This makes the project the biggest airport works since the move from Paya Lebar Airport to Changi in 1981, and also one of the most challenging, said Mrs Teo.

To link the current airport and future terminal, Changi Coast Road will need to be diverted.

More than 40km of taxiways, about the length of the Pan Island Expressway from Tuas to Tampines, will also be built to connect the airport's two existing runways to a third runway.

A 60m-wide canal will also need to be diverted.

To improve access to and from T5, the Land Transport Authority will boost bus links and study various rail options, including extending the current MRT line from T2 to the new T5.

The future Eastern Region Line could also be connected to the new terminal, LTA said.

Airlines and other industry players are excited about the new developments.

Singapore Airlines, which currently operates out of T2 and T3, has already "expressed preliminary interest" in moving to T5, spokesman Nicholas Ionides said.

But there are concerns that Changi could face terminal and runway constraints that will lead to congestion and delays for travellers before the expansion works are completed.

From 66 million now, the airport is expected to grow its capacity steadily in the coming years. It will be able to handle 85 million passengers by 2018 when the future T4 is ready and T1 expanded.

Mr Yap Ong Heng, director- general of the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore, said there are plans in place to "stretch" the current two runways.

"It will be busier but it need not get worse," said Mr Lee Seow Hiang, chief executive officer of Changi Airport Group.

"That's the reality, we can't deny it. But we think we have the ability to still provide a service that people talk about."

Changi's T5 to cater to 50m passengers per year
Hetty Musfirah Abdul Khamid Channel NewsAsia 30 Aug 13;

SINGAPORE: The new Terminal 5 at Singapore's Changi Airport is set to be one of the largest terminals in the world, with an initial passenger handling capacity of 50 million per year.

When it begins operations in mid-2020s, it will boost the airport's total handling capacity to 135 million passengers per year.

Changi Airport will also begin operating on a three-runway system from around 2020, instead of the current two.

Minister of State for Transport Josephine Teo, who is chairing the Changi 2036 steering committee, gave these details on the expansion plans for the airport on Friday.

Currently, Changi Airport can handle up to 66 million passenger movements every year, using the two existing runways and three terminals.

The handling capacity will go up to 85 million in 2017, when Terminal 4 is expected to be ready.

However, passenger traffic in Asia Pacific is still expected to grow.

Mrs Teo said: "In Singapore, we are expecting passenger air traffic growth at Changi to be around five per cent per year till the end of this decade, and it will moderate to three to four per cent in the next decade.

"We have to bear in mind that as other airports grow in terms of passenger volumes, we must expect their connectivity to grow also -- even if we do nothing.

"Thus, Changi will need to capture a share of the growing traffic in order to upkeep our current connectivity, and we also need capacity to allow Changi to build on the current leadership position, to establish new city links with more airlines."

To this effect, a 1,080 hectare reclaimed site at Changi East will be redeveloped to become Terminal 5.

The terminal will be linked to the other terminals at Changi Airport to make it easier for transfers and for airfield operational efficiency. The terminal will also be connected to the MRT network and sited near to hotels and offices.

To the north of the terminal, land has also been set aside for facilities for airfreight and air express operators as well as maintenance, repair and overhaul activities.

The committee is looking at two options to build the terminal -- a Y-shaped design or a T-shaped design.

The Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) will be seeking views from stakeholders over the next two months to refine the layout of the terminal. A concept plan is expected to be finalised in the first half of 2014, before works begin in the second half of 2014.

To make way for an integrated airfield, the existing Changi Coast Road will be diverted and replaced with a new road and park connector further east, along the eastern coastline. The new Changi Coast Road will be ready before Runway 3 is operational around 2020.

The existing Runway 3, currently used by the military, will be extended from 2.75km to 4km to handle larger passenger aircraft.

Almost 40km of new taxiways will also be built to connect the runway with the current airport and to allow for efficient aircraft movement.

New facilities such as navigation aids, airfield lighting systems and a fire station will need to be built.

Access to the area will also be improved.

Chua Chong Kheng, deputy chief executive of the Land Transport Authority, said: "As we plan for the extension or expansion of the airport, we will also need to expand our rail and road network to meet the transport needs of everyone travelling to the Changi Airport area.

"As part of our rail expansion plans, we are studying how we can link our rail network to the new Terminal 5, and we will also look at the adequacy of bus services and see how this can be beefed up."

Planning and preparatory works for the project have already started.

Mrs Teo said the developments at Changi East require careful coordination and will stretch over several terms of government.

She said: "For passengers, Changi must mean superior connectivity, convenience and comfort. So these plans are significant because they strengthen our air hub.

"But there is also special meaning for Singaporeans. Changi connects us to the world and the plans open the path to new business and job opportunities. That is really the bigger story to be told."

- CNA/ac

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Future builders, designers to gain from redevelopment of eastern Singapore

Monica Kotwani Channel NewsAsia 30 Aug 13;

SINGAPORE: The government's move to redevelop the entire eastern part of the country will provide today's young -- the nation's future builders and designers -- tremendous opportunities in Singapore's development in the next 30 to 40 years. That is according to Acting Minister for Social and Family Development, Chan Chun Sing.

He was speaking to some 200 students who took part in this year's Singapore Amazing Machine Competition.

The budding scientists and technologists, who worked in teams, had to incorporate as many scientific concepts into their contraptions.

Mr Chan, who is also Senior Minister of State for Defence, said that as a small country, Singapore faces many constraints -- but that can also be turned into opportunities.

He cited the example of the plan to move Paya Lebar Airport to Changi. Having taller buildings in the Paya Lebar area could present opportunities to break new ground in building technology.

Mr Chan said: "There cannot be a strong Singapore, with a strong economy or a strong defence system, without a strong core of scientists and technologists amongst us.

"It is that important role that you have the opportunities to fulfil in the coming years, and the government will make sure we continue to invest in our science and tech education to ensure that Singapore continues to maintain a core group of people in Singapore with a depth of expertise."

Mr Chan also highlighted healthcare as another area of putting science and technology to good use.

He added: "In 2030, we may have almost a million people over 65 years old. For the pessimists amongst us, that might spell tremendous challenges, but for optimists and scientists and technologists amongst you, that spells tremendous opportunities for us to have a new generation of medical equipment and monitoring devices."

- CNA/ac

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Property analysts expect Bidadari to be most popular housing area

Hu Jielan and Eileen Poh Channel NewsAsia 30 Aug 13;

SINGAPORE: Bidadari is expected to be the most popular of the three recently announced housing areas among home buyers due to the area’s convenient location.

Property analysts compared the area with Punggol Matilda and Tampines North and said that Bidadari’s city-fringed location and proximity to two MRT stations will work in its favour, especially among younger people.

The experts said that even its history as a cemetery is unlikely to ward off potential buyers.

Eugene Lim, ERA’s key executive officer, said: "I think by and large, most people have got around the superstition thing. And most of the buyers today are younger, and they actually look at the concept as a whole, the region as a whole, and are not very superstitious anymore."

Analysts expect Punggol Matilda to be the next popular choice among home buyers with its waterfront location.

While buyers can look forward to new urban design concepts in the three areas, analysts said they do not expect prices to differ much from the new flats in other locations.

PropNex David Poh & Associate Pte Ltd Managing Director David Poh said: "With new concepts, new designs and facilities, cost of construction will go up. But I don't think the price of BTOs (Build-To-Order) will go up because of this. The government has announced that they want to make BTOs affordable for any Singaporeans who want to buy a flat."

The Housing and Development Board (HDB) is seeking public feedback on development plans for the three housing areas.

Members of the public can view an exhibition showcasing the plans at HDB Hub Atrium till September 15.

- CNA/gn

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