Monday, 7 March 2016

Singapore Cross Island Line

Spanning Singapore, the Cross Island Line (CRL) will be about 50km in length and is targeted to complete around 2030.

Starting from Changi, the CRL will pass through Loyang, Pasir Ris, Hougang and Ang Mo Kio before reaching Sin Ming. Continuing westwards, it will serve areas including Bukit Timah, Clementi, and the West Coast before terminating at the Jurong Industrial Estate.

The Government is currently studying two underground alignments in the vicinity of Central Catchment Nature Reserve (CCNR).

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Singapore mulls alignment for Cross Island Line

SINGAPORE's Land Transport Authority (LTA) is exploring two alignment options for the proposed 50km east-west Cross Island Line (CRL) in the island state's Central Catchment Nature Reserve (CCNR) due to concerns over ground conditions.

LTA has announced a tender for site investigations for a direct alignment option with site investigation work for the skirting option already underway. The direct alignment is 4km long with 2km of tunnels running up to 12 storeys beneath the CCNR, while the skirting option is 9km in length.

Site investigation of the direct alignment is set to commence by the end of the year and the findings from both studies will provide LTA with detailed information on underground soil conditions. They will also inform phase 2 of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for the project, which along with assessing various concerns and considerations, will enable the government to make a decision on which alignment to follow.

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Additional mitigation measures for train works after discussions with nature groups: LTA

Additional measures to further reduce the impact on the forest environment will be put in place, when soil works to see if a train tunnel can be built under the Republic's largest nature reserve start in the 4th quarter of this year.

In all, 10 additional measures will be implemented on top of the nine that were laid out in an earlier environmental report, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) said on Wednesday (Jun 8).

These include:
  • Scheduling at least one rest day in between surveys which require contractors to go off-trail;
  • Engaging a certified arborist (tree expert) to ensure that trees are not damaged during the works;
  • Involving nature groups as observers to reinforce compliance with mitigation measures;
  • Requiring contractors to conduct trial runs and rehearsals of borehole operations and off-trail surveys off-site, before they venture into the forest, so as to ensure equipment is fully functional and "within the stringent requirements of working with the reserve".
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Cross Island Line (CRL) stations and interchanges
Cross Island Line (CRL) is a 50km MRT line, the longest MRT line ever announced in Singapore. It is targeted to be completed by 2030.

While the actual completion is still 17 years away, there are clues to where Cross Island Line will run, and we can deduce the possible interchanges and stations.

A careful study shows these possible MRT interchanges for Cross Island Line (CRL):
  • Aviation Park (interchange with Eastern Region Line)
  • Pasir Ris (interchange with East West Line)
  • Lor Halus (interchange with Cross Island Line)
  • Riviera (interchange with Punggol LRT)
  • Punggol (interchange with North East Line)
  • Hougang (interchange with North East Line)
  • Ang Mo Kio (interchange with North South Line)
  • Sin Ming (interchange with Thomson Line)
  • King Albert Park (interchange with Downtown Line)
  • Clementi (interchange with East West Line)
  • West Coast (interchange with Jurong Region Line)
  • Jurong Bird Park (interchange with Jurong Region Line)
For possible stations for Cross Island Line, please click here to access the full page interactive map where you can zoom in to view the details.

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Both possible alignments for CRL will be studied

The Government is studying both underground alignments, and no decision has been taken yet.

For the 4km direct alignment, 2km of the tunnel will be below the Central Catchment Nature Reserve (CCNR), while the other 2km is located outside it.

The section of the tunnel beneath the CCNR will be about 40m deep, depending on findings from ground investigations. There will not be any construction of infrastructure on the surface.

related: $2b extra cost if Cross Island Line skirts Central Catchment Nature Reserve

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Cross Island Line: Path around reserve may cost $2b more

THE alternative alignment that routes the Cross Island Line around the Central Catchment Nature Reserve could add about $2 billion to the rail project's cost, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) has revealed.

This 9km "skirting alignment" will require longer tunnels and extra ventilation facilities, compared to the 4km direct route, of which 2km will cut through Singapore's largest nature reserve, it said.

"Besides land and home acquisitions that could affect families, the extra works could incur $2 billion more in expenditure," added LTA's chief executive Chew Men Leong.

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All sides must keep an open mind

Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan said in Parliament on Monday that Singaporeans should "keep an open mind" on the Cross Island Line's alignment.

He said a decision will take into account "potential impact on the nature reserve, the travelling distance and time for commuters, the cost to taxpayers, and the potential acquisition of homes and businesses".

"Go with the facts, and look for the evidence," he said.

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To cross or not to cross

SIX minutes. That’s how long more commuters’ journeys will take if the Cross Island Line (CRL) is built to skirt MacRitchie Reservoir. Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan revealed the estimate in Parliament yesterday, as he urged Singaporeans to “keep an open mind, go with the facts… and look for the evidence”.

The G’s environmental impact assessment – now available online – found that site investigations alone would have a “moderate” impact on the Central Catchment Nature Reserve (CCNR). But nature groups want “zero” impact, which is code for “don’t touch the reserve”. That prompted residents nearby to worry about the alternative route, which runs under their houses.

Two possible routes, two sets of interests, and no happy faces. As local MP Chong Kee Hiong noted: “At the end of the day, not everyone will be convinced, because we have conflicting objectives and needs in the country. But all views should be taken into consideration. The process is as important as the decision.” Sure, but someone has to decide.

related: We need new questions

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Cross Island MRT Line
Cross Island MRT Line's colour and route are not confirmed

The Cross Island MRT Line (CRL) will be the eighth Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) line in Singapore, It is currently under planning and evaluation. The line will begin from Changi, passing through Loyang, Pasir Ris, Hougang, Ang Mo Kio, Bukit Timah, Clementi, West Coast before terminating at Jurong Industrial Estate. The line was first announced by the Land Transport Authority on 17 January 2013.

Targeted to be completed by 2030, it will offer East-West commuters an alternative to the existing East West Line. It will also connect to all the other major lines to serve as a key transfer line, complementing the role currently fulfilled by the orbital Circle Line.

The eastern leg of the line will include a segment that branches out from Pasir Ris and extends into Punggol. Based on the Ministry of National Development Land Use Plan, this line is expected to interchange with the East West Line at Clementi and Pasir Ris, Downtown Line at Sixth Avenue on Stage 2 (DTL2), Thomson-East Coast Line at Bright Hill, North South Line at Ang Mo Kio, and the North East Line at Hougang and Punggol.

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Gov't to double MRT network by 2030, Jurong and Cross Island Lines announced
Singapore will double its rail network by 2030 in a major expansion announced on Thursday.

As part of the Land Transport Masterplan 2013, two new MRT lines will be built and three existing lines will be extended. This will double the current rail network from 178 km to about 360 km.

LTA said in a statement that it will build the 50-km Cross Island Line (CRL), which will start from Changi and pass through Loyang, Pasir Ris, Hougang, Ang Mo Kio before reaching Sin Ming.

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Cross Island Line

Discussion and Position Paper of the Nature Society (Singapore) - The Cross Island Line is proposed to pass through the southern section of the Central Catchment Nature Reserve.

The purpose of nature reserves is for the conservation of native flora and fauna, they should not to be seen as vacant State land through which transport corridors may be placed.

The Nature Society believes that engineering investigation and construction works for the Cross Island Line will severely degrade pristine habitats within the nature reserve and recommends that the design alignment be adjusted to avoid crossing the reserve.

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Cross Island Line sparks residents' fears

Even as green groups lobby for the Cross Island Line (CRL) to be built around Singapore's largest nature reserve instead of cutting through it, residents are worried about the impact this will have on their homes and lives.

The proposed 9km option, which skirts the Central Catchment Nature Reserve, will run beneath a swathe of private homes near Upper Thomson Road, such as Windsor Park and Yew Lian Park. It then turns west under Lornie Road before heading northwards, parallel to the Pan-Island Expressway.

The Land Transport Authority (LTA) has said that it is studying both alignments for the CRL, a 50km line connecting Changi to Jurong and expected to open in 2030.

related: Cross Island Line: Site tests will be green

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Impact of Cross Island work on MacRitchie significant without LTA mitigation measures

The impact on MacRitchie fauna — like the lesser mousedeer and the slow loris — from site investigation work for the future Cross Island MRT Line would be “large” if mitigation measures were not adopted following a report commissioned by the Land Transport Authority (LTA) now open for public inspection.

With a high number of animal species near the alignment option that cuts beneath the Central Catchment Nature Reserve, wildlife would be significantly disturbed if not for restricted access that the LTA has agreed to implement. Most animals will be able to move far away enough from the noise generated by drilling rigs and other machines, but concerns remain over some creatures such as the lesser mousedeer, slow loris, colugo and pangolin.

The mousedeer, slow loris and critically endangered Sunda pangolin have distinct home ranges, and movement away from the noise or human activities “may potentially bring such fauna into territorial conflict such as increased competition for food and shelter, particularly in a highly fragmented habitat like that in the CCNR”, stated the Environmental Impact Assessment (Phase One) gazetted by the LTA last Friday (Feb 5).

related: LTA releases online environmental impact assessment report on CRL

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The Proposed Cross Island Line in Singapore: Nature or Development?

The air was dense with the recurrent trans-boundary haze arising from land and forest fires. The National Environmental Agency advisory for the day urged citizens to minimise prolonged outdoor activity.

Braving the health hazard, a small group of Singaporeans assembled at the Hong Lim Park to participate in a peaceful protest called “Chained to the Roots”. In a dramatic act, the lead artist tied herself to a tree and vowed to stay put for an entire day. The protest was intended to draw attention towards the potential environmental damages from the newly proposed Cross Island Line (CIL).

A section of CIL, an initiative to improve public transport in Singapore, would run through the largest nature reserve in Singapore. The protestors wanted the line to be realigned such that it would skirt the nature reserve.

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Cross Island, Cross Eyed
The Cross Island MRT shows just how crossed-up conservation priorities are in Singapore

Singapore - Over the past months, there has been a growing opposition voiced towards the ambitious Mass Rapid Transit project, the Cross Island MRT Line, that is supposed to bisect part of Singapore’s Central Catchment Area.

The uproar is only right and proper. A rail line, underground or not, with or without fancy-worded assurances, that cuts through a supposedly-protected nature reserve is, in no uncertain terms, completely unacceptable.

I don’t think this sort of idea would ever be taken seriously in any other first world country. Imagine if you stood up to seriously suggest that a subway line be constructed under Yellowstone Park, for instance, or Uluru, or a highway over the Great Barrier Reef, for the prime reason that it’s the shortest distance between two points. You’d never finish cleaning the egg out of your hair.

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Ex-National Parks Board officer: MRT line through MacRitchie an irreversible error

I refer to the article “Impact of Cross Island work on MacRitchie significant without LTA mitigation measures” (Today, 11 Feb 2016).

I am writing in to express my worry and concern about the Cross Island Line. I feel very strongly that we should not go ahead with it and instead have the line rerouted south along Lornie Road.

I was once the conservation manager of Bukit Timah Nature Reserve with the National Parks Board and in my course of work I have had the opportunity to conduct research in the forests of Macritchie.

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Assessing MacRitchie’s Environmental Impact Assessment report

MAJOR, moderate, large, or significant? These are four words used in the news today to describe the potential impact of a new MRT line on the plants and animals in MacRitchie.

But what do they mean actually?

The MSM reports don’t make this clear so it is virtually impossible for anyone to understand the level of impact the new Cross Island Line will have on the Central Catchment Nature Reserve. The 30sqkm area in MacRitchie is currently Singapore’s largest unbroken piece of natural land, home to hundreds of species of wildlife including the mouse deer, slow loris, and critically endangered Sunda pangolin.

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Tests on nature reserve must be conducted with care: Study

Tests to see how a train tunnel can be built through Singapore's largest nature reserve would have a "moderate" impact on plants and animals there, but only if measures to reduce impact are strictly implemented.

Otherwise, the soil investigation works for the upcoming Cross Island Line could have a large impact on the highly sensitive parts of the Central Catchment Nature Reserve. The mitigation strategies to prevent this include the use of enclosures to reduce engine noise and tanks to collect discharge.

This was one of the findings of an independent environmental study commissioned by the Land Transport Authority (LTA) to assess the impact of the line on the reserve, which includes reservoirs like MacRitchie, Upper Seletar, Upper Peirce and Lower Peirce.

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Cross Island line debate misses elephant in room

The proposed alignment of the new Cross Island Line, which could run through the Central Catchment Nature Reserve, has sparked heated debate

While we must do what we can to preserve our natural heritage, we should not shy away from taking hard decisions, if necessary. That has been the pragmatism Singapore prides itself on.

But is building an MRT line under Singapore's largest nature reserve necessary?

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LTA speaking to those likely to be affected by Cross Island Line’s route

The Land Transport Authority (LTA) has started speaking to people likely to be affected by the construction of the proposed route for the Cross Island Line, it said. The upcoming MRT line is set to run from Jurong, past Clementi, before ending in Changi.

Said the deputy chief executive of infrastructure and development at LTA, Chua Chong Kheng: “The Government has not yet made the decision on which option to pursue. If the direct alignment is chosen, construction of the MRT tunnel will be via underground tunnelling methods, and will be done from outside the nature reserve.

And there will be no structures on the surface level of the CCNR, which is the Central Catchment Nature Reserve. For the skirting alignment, the underground MRT tunnels may go through homes, businesses and buildings, and hence, acquisition may be needed.”

related: Cross Island Line: Gov studying route impact, has not made decision yet

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Cross Island Line debate: LTA’s deafening silence and the reductionist concept of “trade-offs”

There is an ongoing debate about whether the Cross Island Line should cut through the Central Catchment Nature Reserve (CCNR), Singapore’s last remaining primary forest, or whether it should take a detour around it. Numerous letters have found their way into the mainstream papers. Some of them make excellent points, others make you wonder if these papers have any self-respect at all.

Meanwhile, one Straits Times journalist has blasted the logic behind cutting through the CCNR.
Two observations may be made. One, LTA has provided very little information and remains uninterested in engaging the public. Two, most people continue to unquestioningly believe in the logic of “trade-offs”—the reductionist idea that the more we preserve the environment, the greater the economic cost, and vice versa.

Seemingly uninterested in defending itself or providing the public with accurate details, LTA’s silence has been deafening. When the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report was released, some nincompoop thought it would be a good idea to make the hard copy available for public viewing only by appointment. It’s over a thousand pages long, mind you, and no photography was allowed. It was only later that LTA came to its senses and made it available online, but even then, LTA continues to ignore the public, refusing to engage with it apart from its initial press release.

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SMACK IN THE MIDDLE: Crossed island line

The proposed route for Singapore’s Cross Island MRT Line is going to cut through the Central Catchment Area, and construction may potentially damage Singapore’s largest nature reserve.

The 2,000 hectares forest is home to many endangered species of flora and fauna, including the Banded Leaf Monkey, Sunda Pangolin, and Mousedeer.

While there has been much debate over the ecological impact of the proposed route, another argument has developed for an alternative route: The route should be diverted to service populated areas which are not currently covered by the MRT network, such as Balestier, rather than cut across uninhabited land.

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The Cross-Island Line Debate: What the Nature Lovers Seem to be Missing or Refuse to Acknowledge

You can be forgiven if you haven’t read the full 1000-page report, “Environmental Impact Assessment on Central Catchment Nature Reserve for the Proposed Cross Island Line”. It sounds like a group of engineers went to an Upper Thomson Rd kopitiam, had too many Tigers and wrote down their talk cock sing song session.

In other words, a lot of engineering jargon which many people who aren’t engineers wouldn’t be able to understand. And it’s a 1000 pages of detailed consideration into the feasibility of building the Cross-Island Line under MacRitchie Reservoir.

What’s more prominent has been the cries of environmental groups, especially those clamouring for the LTA to push the tunnel around Lornie Road and Upper Thomson rather than straight through MacRitchie Reservoir. Doing so, they say, will save Mother Nature, and hundreds of species of animal and plant life.


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Towards A Zero-Impact Cross Island Line

Recently, I’ve seen Facebook posts about the Cross Island Line from those outside of my usual echo chamber of environmentally-conscious, nature-loving friends. They and others are talking about the impact of building an MRT line through a forest in our “City in a Garden”. Some are recognising the irony of this conflict.

This discussion is not new. The Cross Island MRT Line, to link the residential district in the north-east to the industrial hub in the west of Singapore by passing through the Central Catchment Nature Reserve, was first announced two years ago as part of the 2013 Population White Paper.

Then, there was a lively conversation — a petition from a concerned individual made its rounds, the issue was discussed at the Singapore Future Sustainability Symposium, and nature groups that were conducting public walks in the MacRitchie nature reserve incorporated the topic in their trails. The Nature Society Singapore proposed an alternate route in a position paper submitted to the government. But within a few months, the conversation died down.

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Save Singapore's Forest Reserves; Our Natural Heritage

Appeal to Land Transport Authority (LTA) Singapore, to re-route proposed Cross Island MRT Line away from our nature reserves

We, the undersigned, note with deep sadness and disbelief that a Cross Island MRT Line is depicted to run beneath the Central Catchment Area, requiring soil investigations in the Central Catchment Nature Reserve due to begin soon. Our utmost concern is that works connected with this development will ruin our most precious natural resource—our central rainforest.

Our rainforest is our natural heritage, unique to us and no other, serving us in more ways than we may know. No MRT line, whether above or underground should pass through it.

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12 S’porean animals that are gone/almost gone because their homes were taken away

You know the narrative by now: Raffles discovers Singapore, Singapore becomes busy British port, Singapore gains independence, Singapore becomes rich.

In less than 200 years, this tiny speck of an island transformed into one of the most convenient places in the world to live. We enjoy air-conditioning, relatively decent housing (albeit a little cramped), and relatively acceptable public transport (when it’s not breaking down).

But there was a price to all this development – and Singapore’s wildlife paid it.

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New park will cross an entire small nation

How do you make Asia's greenest city even greener? The answer, in Singapore, is to build a new park. But not just any park.

At 24-kilometers, stretching almost the entire north-south length of the island's, this one's likely to be one of the region's -- if not the world's -- longest man-made recreational spaces.

It's set to run along a disused railway line.

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Full Coverage:
More measures to reduce impact of site surveys for Cross Island Line
Tender for site investigation specialist for Cross Island Line
Additional mitigation measures after discussions with nature groups
Singapore mulls alignment for Cross Island Line
LTA to put out tender to study direct alignment option for CIL
10 new measures to keep forest safe during train tunnel tests
Impact assessment process can be improved
Cross Island Line could save commuters 40 minutes: LTA chief
Cross Island Line sparks residents' fears
No decision made yet on Cross Island Line alignment: LTA
Questions on the Cross Island Line
Cross Island Line site investigation works to be modified to reduce
Two more years before decision on Cross Island Line: Khaw Boon
Cross Island Line a key node, so keep open mind: Khaw
Impact of Cross Island work on MacRitchie significant without LTA
Tests on nature reserve must be conducted with care: Study