Singapore Government Press Release

Media Division, Ministry of Information and The Arts

36th Storey, PSA Building, 460 Alexandra Road, Singapore 119963.

Tel: 3757794/5






Last November, I officiated at the ground-breaking ceremony of the North-East MRT Line (NEL). Today, we are here to witness another milestone of this $5 billion project - the signing of some $800 million worth of contracts to electrify and service the NEL stations and tracks. Another $226 million will be spent on new trains for the Changi Airport Line as well as the existing MRT lines.



The NEL is the biggest and most expensive infrastructure project in Singapore in recent years. Despite the current economic slow-down in Singapore and uncertainties in the region, the NEL project is on schedule and proceeding full steam ahead. This is because : one, the Government has been prudent in its economic and financial management and has built-up our resources over the years, two, the project is economically viable and will pay for itself over the long run; and three, it is an investment in our future. Such investments enable us to strengthen our competitive edge, and allow us to take advantage of the upswing in economic sentiment when it recovers. It also builds up our transport infrastructure to provide a world-class transport system for our people. We will continue to push ahead with such investments.



One rapid transit system a year


Last November, I announced that the Land Transport Authority (LTA) planned to build one rapid transit system a year. Under this plan, our rapid transit network will double within the next 10 years. Our strategy is to build a comprehensive rail network to make our public transport system even more convenient and accessible.



Even as work proceeds on NEL, LTA will conduct feasibility studies to identify new rapid transit lines for development. The LTA will study how to extend our MRT and LRT network to various parts of the island, including residential and commercial areas where commuter traffic is high. As promised in the 1996 White Paper on Land Transport, we aim to make our MRT and LRT network comparable to the London Underground, the Paris Metro or the Tokyo Chikatetsu. This would enhance Singapore as a city of excellence, a city of choice to live and work in and a destination of choice for those on business or leisure.



Marina Line


LTA has recently completed a study to build a rapid transit system to serve the new downtown core at the Marina area. The study shows that such a line is economically viable.



I am pleased to announce that the Government has accepted the recommendation to build this new underground rapid transit system. The new system will be called the Marina Line. Barring unforeseen circumstances, the Marina Line will be completed in the year 2004. The Line is likely to be some 13 kilometres long and have up to 20 stations.



It will link Marina Centre to the existing North-South line and the North-East Line at the Dhoby Ghaut Interchange Station. It can run along Bras Basah Road to Marina Centre. From there, the line can branch off in two directions - one heading towards the new Downtown area in Marina South and then to People's Park station on the North East Line, the other connecting Marina Centre to the East-West Line at either Kallang or Paya Lebar stations.



Detailed engineering studies will be carried out to determine the final alignment for the Line. A significant part of the Marina Line is likely to be underground and would therefore be more expensive to build. We expect it to cost about $1.75 billion. This is a very large investment. But it will be money worth spending since it is an investment to help Singapore become an even more competitive global city.



The Marina Line will bring us many benefits. Firstly, it will serve the transportation needs of both the existing and future developments in Marina South. Secondly, the line will improve accessibility to the MRT system thus encouraging more people to switch to public transport. Thirdly, the improved public transport system will be a part of the enhanced business infrastructure in the downtown area. The net result will be to relieve the traffic congestion in the city area.



E & M contracts for NEL


Today's E & M contract signing is a significant milestone in the NEL project. It is the culmination of a lot of effort by LTA's contract evaluation team to ensure that we get the best value for our hard-earned money. An important consideration in the choice of the E&M system for NEL is the emphasis given to cost effectiveness. The NEL systems will be designed and constructed such that maintenance will be easier and yield higher reliability at the same time. In this way, operating costs can be reduced without compromising the system's safety and performance.



Some of the E & M systems to be used in the NEL will have several new features. The system will allow for two-way communication between commuters and the Operation Control Centre. Computers on board the trains will send information on the train doors, brakes and motors back to the Operation Control Centre, while the Supervisory Control System tracks and controls the movement of all the trains. The Signalling System can deploy more trains during peak hours if necessary. Some of these features will be introduced to the existing system as we upgrade the level of service.



New fleet


LTA is contracting to buy a total of 46 new trains in this morning's ceremony. 25 trains will be for the NEL and five for the Changi Airport Line. It is also taking the opportunity to increase the fleet for the existing MRT system with another 16 trains. These will be funded by SMRT. With the increased fleet size, the carrying capacity of the existing lines can be increased. This is in anticipation of higher demand for MRT services as more parts of Singapore get linked up.





Exciting times lie ahead for commuters. The NEL is proceeding on schedule at full speed. The Marina Line will also be coming your way. I extend my heartiest congratulations to all the E & M contractors and wish you every success as you join the LTA team in bringing Singapore one step closer to our vision of a world class land transport system.



Thank you.