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    Jul 22, 2016

    Direct KL to Changi travel a possibility

    THE upcoming Thomson-East Coast Line (TEL) could be lengthened to provide a direct train link between the city and Changi Airport. Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan revealed yesterday that the Government is studying the feasibility of extending the 43km MRT line, which is expected to open in stages from 2019 to 2024.

    "It would provide a direct connection from the airport to the city," he said during a groundbreaking ceremony to mark the start of works for TEL's East Coast stretch.

    MRT commuters currently have to transfer to an airport shuttle service at Tanah Merah station on the East-West Line.

    Plans to extend the TEL were considered by the Land Transport Authority (LTA) as early as three years ago.

    If they materialise, the TEL will carry on from its last eastern stop, at Sungei Bedok, to the future Terminal 5 and the existing Changi Airport station that serves terminals 1 to 3, and Terminal 4 which opens next year.

    The LTA said if the extension is given the green light, it will come into operation "in tandem" with T5, which will be completed in the second half of the 2020s.

    Studies will also look into linking the proposed 50km Cross-Island Line (CRL) to T5 and the new industrial zone serving the airport.

    Mr Khaw said this would complement the future high-speed rail (HSR) link between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore, as the CRL will be linked to the HSR's Jurong East terminus.

    "Potentially, you can, if you want, have a traveller from KL Sentral travel all the way on HSR (and MRT) to Changi Airport and vice versa," he said.

    On Tuesday, Singapore and Malaysia signed a memorandum of understanding for the 350km HSR. It will bring commuters to KL in 90 minutes, when it is launched in 2026.

    Mr Khaw, who also announced the start of construction for the East Coast Integrated Depot and the Downtown Line 3 extension (DTL3e) to Sungei Bedok, said extending the TEL and CRL would allow commuters "to get from all parts of the island to the airport with no more than one transfer".

    While construction of the 22-station, 30km Thomson stretch of the TEL is already in full swing, yesterday's groundbreaking kicked off works for the East Coast segment, made up of nine stations along a 13km stretch.

    The entire East Coast stretch is being built on reclaimed land and this poses a challenge, said LTA's group director for TEL and CRL, Ng Kee Nam.

    "Due to the extremely soft seabed underlying the reclaimed land", he explained, the earth-retaining walls will go underground to 60m - the height of 20 storeys, instead of the typical 25m.