120,000 get sneak peek of new stations on Circle Line

Straits Times: Mon, Oct 03
MORE than 120,000 commuters yesterday got a sneak peek at what the completed Circle Line will look like, when they travelled between the 12 new train stations that will open on Saturday. The stations stretch from Harbourfront to Caldecott and i…

MORE than 120,000 commuters yesterday got a sneak peek at what the completed Circle Line will look like, when they travelled between the 12 new train stations that will open on Saturday.

The stations stretch from Harbourfront to Caldecott and include Holland Village, Botanic Gardens and Kent Ridge.

They form the last leg of the $8 billion Circle Line, which took nine years to build and also connects the North-South, East-West and North-East lines.

Next year, a Circle Line extension from Promenade to Marina Bay will be opened.

Yesterday’s Circle Line open house, dubbed the Circle Line Discovery, gave commuters a chance to ride between the stations for free, ahead of its opening at 5.37am from Dhoby Ghaut on Saturday.

Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew, who was guest of honour at the event, said he expects commuters to change the way they travel.

‘People will use the Circle Line more to connect to other lines,’ he told reporters.

‘It will shorten their journey times, I believe, for some of them, and it will also, for a number of people, result in a reduction even in their fares as they have to travel a shorter distance.’

It is estimated that some 320,000 commuters will benefit from the greater connectivity and shorter travel times.

Mr Lui also promised commuters that SMRT will carry out the necessary checks on the Circle Line system to make sure everything goes smoothly on Saturday.

‘We will look at how we can better and more quickly identify as well as isolate the fault where it takes place so that the rest of the line, as much as possible, we can bring it up to operation as quickly as we can,’ he said.

He was referring to a Sept 20 incident in which a faulty cable on the Circle Line stalled train services on the entire line for four hours during the morning rush hour, affecting about 26,600 commuters.

Preliminary investigations suggested that the faulty cable below the platform of Dakota station caused a power trip that affected the entire line.

During the open house, Mr Lui visited game booths and watched dance performances at the Kent Ridge and Botanic Gardens stations.

A carnival-like atmosphere was created at six of the 12 stations, and commuters streamed past the gantries, which were left open.

A highlight was the ‘Circle Line Musical’, featuring actors Irene Ang, Chua Enlai, Alaric Tay and People’s Association chief executive director Yam Ah Mee, who proved to be a crowd favourite with his Bhangra dance moves.

The open house drew visitors from as far away as Pasir Ris, such as insurance agent Maria Koh, 58.

She took more than an hour by train and bus to get to Caldecott station, and planned to visit the Botanic Gardens and Labrador Park stations.

‘I’m very excited. There are a lot of places I’m keen to visit along the line, and the line will make travelling easier,’ she said in Mandarin.

There was a queue waiting to enter the Buona Vista station’s Circle Line entrance before it opened at 10am.

One of the early birds, Jurong resident Lim Soo Ling, a 62-year-old retiree, said: ‘I heard that they were offering us free rides so I came down by train on the East-West line to take a look. It’ll definitely be a lot more convenient for us to visit places like Holland Village.’

Buona Vista resident Chua Soon Khai, 35, who took the train down to Botanic Gardens, said he might now reconsider driving to places where parking is scarce.

‘I normally drive everywhere. But parking is expensive now and carparks are always full at some places,’ said the financial controller. ‘So I may consider using the train instead.’

As the Land Transport Authority (LTA) moves to complete the public transport jigsaw, it is also seeking public feedback on ways to improve the system. It will offer iPads to three members of the public who come up with the best ideas on improving the public transport system. From now till Oct 31, people can share their ideas online at talk2lta.lta.gov.sg/ideas

The best ideas will be selected through public voting in December. Another 20 winners stand to win limited-edition ez-link cards commemorating the Circle Line.

ongyiern@sph.com.sg
Source: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd

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