Singapore

Oct 21 debut for Downtown Line 3

42km Downtown Line now links housing estates in north-west and east to old and new downtowns

Downtown Line 3 (DTL3) will open on Oct 21, completing the third and final phase of the 42km Downtown MRT line that links the north-western and eastern housing estates to the old and new downtowns.

DTL3 spans 21km and covers 16 stations, running from Fort Canning through areas such as Jalan Besar and Bendemeer before heading eastwards through Geylang Bahru, MacPherson, Ubi, Bedok North and Upper Changi neighbourhoods, and finally ending at Expo station.

DTL3 will have an interchange with the Circle Line at MacPherson and two others - at Tampines and Expo - with the East-West Line.

When service starts, commuters will be able to travel from Tampines to Kaki Bukit in 10 minutes - less than half the 25 minutes it takes by bus today.

From Expo to Fort Canning, the journey will take 35 minutes, versus 78 minutes by bus today.

By 2024, DTL3 will be extended by 2.2km from Expo to join the upcoming Thomson-East Coast Line. (See map.)

With DTL3, the 34-station V-shaped Downtown Line is now Singapore's longest underground driverless train system.

The project started in 2007, when tenders for Downtown Line 1 were called.

CHALLENGES

Construction of DTL3 involved a number of challenges, the biggest of which was diverting the Singapore River - twice - to build tunnels linking Fort Canning and Bencoolen stations.

Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan wrote in a Facebook post yesterday: "With each new line and new stations, we try to make sure that we further upgrade their design, taking advantage of new technology and innovations.

"DTL3 is no exception. It has several notable features that are testament to the ingenuity of our engineers."

For instance, Bencoolen station's ventilation shafts and cooling tower are integrated with the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts extension.

"By doing so, we made the environment more pleasant and also made better use of land," he said.

At a pre-opening ride on DTL3 yesterday, Dr Yaacob Ibrahim, an MP for Jalan Besar GRC, said the area's connectivity would change dramatically.

"I'm very happy with this development," he said.

MP for Potong Pasir, Mr Sitoh Yih Pin, who is also chairman of the Government Parliamentary Committee for Transport, said: "Singaporeans will benefit enormously from this amenity."

He said DTL3 will serve 33 education centres and some housing estates, "with some flats at the doorstep of stations".

Temasek Polytechnic student Brilson Lee, 18, "feels good" about having another transport option to and from campus. But the Serangoon resident said he will see how fast and crowded the line is come Oct 21.

"If Bus 129 (a semi-express service that goes to Temasek Poly via the Bartley viaduct) is faster, I will continue to use it," he said.

DTL3 will boost operator SBS Transit's (SBST) bottomline.

The average daily ridership for the first two stages was 245,000 in the first quarter this year, up 19 per cent from the same time last year.

When DTL3 is in full swing, total daily ridership is expected to go up to 500,000, and should make the line profitable.

SBST is employing some 600 people to run DTL3, bringing its total Downtown Line staff strength to 1,300.

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