Thursday, October 31, 2013

Where are the stations?

I suppose one of the more interesting aspects of the line at this stage is determining where the stations are. We know the start point and the end point, so now its getting the 10 points in between nailed down. As mentioned before, this corridor is kind of hard to build along with there being a lack of really long and straight roads through the majority of the areas (Marine Parade Rd is long and straight, yes, but only for the Marine Parade section - still need to get to Marine Parade). So anyway, a few trips through the year reveals some results - in the form of Soil Investigations (SI). These are tests done to obtain samples of the soil for analysis to see whether the soil types are hard or soft so that they can determine what type of  Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM) to use during construction among other things. So, a few notable locations..

Gardens by the Bay East

28 October 2013

28 October 2013

28 October 2013

This has been the hot area for SI rigs. In October, a total of 7 rigs and 13 other marked off sites dot the length of the park close to the golf course at Marina East. These correspond to the ventilation shaft area where the Thomson Line (TSL) leaves off for connection to the Eastern Region Line (ERL) in future.

Marine Parade Central

28 October 2013

28 October 2013

28 October 2013

Several SI rigs have been noted in the vicinity and some of the markings from previous rounds can be seen.

Marine Terrace

An abundance of markings from round 1 of the investigations have been noted here. Sitting about 1km away from Marine Parade Central, it seems to be optimal spacing away to place another station for Marine Parade here.

March 2013: The spread of Soil Investigations at Marine Terrace


Another hot spot for SI rigs along the road leading to the East Coast Parkway. Potential to spur development in the area.

21 March 2013: Along Bayshore Rd

21 March 2013: Details of the soil samples and depth

Temasek Secondary

The area around the school is mostly forested vegetation. A station here would enable development of the area and allow Bedok South to grow.

1 April 2013

Bedok Corner

Supposed to be the last stop before the combined depot with the East-West Line and Downtown Line. Several markings noticed near the food centre.

1 April 2013: Spread of SI markings at Bedok Corner

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Projected Timeline

In 2008, the Eastern Region Line (ERL) was announced for projected completion in 2020. Since then, the Land Transport Authority has found planning the line challenging. Part of this stems from having to plot the line parallel to the old sea wall before reclamation works began. As there are no detailed records, this proves to be an uphill task of ensuring that areas where the line runs through are suitable and will not suffer from soil displacement once construction work begins (a very visible effect in similar ground conditions is the 2004 Nicoll Highway collapse). As such, it is not surprising that the line will only see completion after 2020. So what is the probable timeline for the line then?

Going by past instances, notably for Downtown Line Stage 3 (DTL3) and the Thomson Line (TSL), announcement of station locations were done at ministerial inspections of under construction stations. The same can be assumed for the ERL. Probability points to either the North South Line extension to Marina South Pier (due 2014) or the Downtown Line Stage 2 (DTL2 - due 2016). Substantial work is completed on both projects, with Cashew station on the DTL2 at advanced structural works. So potentially, there will be an announcement of the ERL station locations in 2014.

Again, referring to past instances, DTL3 was announced August 2010 and groundbreaking was in end-November 2011, roughly a period of 1 year till construction. Similarly, TSL was announced in August 2012 and construction slated to begin end-2013 or beginning-2014. We can expect ERL construction to begin at roughly end-2015 or even beginning-2016 which is in time for the DTL2 crew to shift over with the resources.

The average time to build an underground line is about 6 years. The North East Line (NEL) took 7 years to complete, Circle Line took a whopping 10 years (due to various delays and accidents), Downtown Line 1 is taking 6 years. Thus, we can expect the completion of the ERL about 2022 to 2023 or 2024.

About ERL

The Eastern Region Line (ERL) was a line announced in 2001 during the Transport Minister's speech at the opening of the Dover station along the East-West Line. This plan saw the ERL envisioned as an oblong line around the eastern districts in Singapore, forming an orbital system there. Subsequently, by 2007 the plans were revised. The northern half of the line which would have been part of phase 1 in the original plan was amalgamated with the then Bukit Timah Line (BTL) and the Circle Line Downtown Extension (DTE) to form the new Downtown Line (DTL). DTE now forms what is DTL1 together with the added Bugis station. BTL now forms what is DTL2 with the northern part of the original ERL being DTL3.

The southern part of the original orbital line is what remains as today's ERL, announced again during the 2008 Land Transport Master Plan. Details were sketchy at best but it now seems to be confirmed that this line will be the eastern extension of the Thomson Line (TSL). This means that trains will run continuously across both systems without the need for passengers to change to another train/line. At this point though, it remains unclear whether the ERL will retain its name and be operated as a single service over 2 lines (like Sydney's Western line & Northern line which share colour on maps and service flow but are named separately) or if the ERL will just be named as the Thomson Line direct.

In any case, current plans see the line having 10 stations along 13km of track with a depot at the current location of SMRT's Changi depot. This depot will be redeveloped to house the East-West Line at an elevated depot, the ERL and bus depot at ground level and the DTL depot underground. It is also understood that one of the stations will be partially built as a shell structure to be fitted out once the surrounding area has suitably developed with sufficient commercial viability to open.

New redeveloped Changi depot (for EWL, ERL & DTL)

Key points of the ERL:
Number of stations - 10 stations
Length of line - 13km
Through-service with Thomson Line (trains will be the same)
Interchange with Downtown Line at eastern terminus