Seven MRT stations on TEL open for passenger service, Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

Seven MRT stations on TEL open for passenger service

Primary school teacher Gladys Ng is set to save money on her daily commute to work with the opening of the fourth stage of the Thomson-East Coast Line (TEL4) on June 23.

The 55-year-old, who lives at a condominium near Bayshore MRT station, usually takes private-hire car rides, which cost around $20 each way to and from her workplace, located near Great World station.

This is because her journey on public transport to work consists of two bus rides that would take 1.5 hours inclusive of waiting time. This is 70 minutes longer than a journey by private-hire car.

But with the opening of TEL4, she can save on at least one private-hire car ride a day.

“I’ve timed my journey, and it’s about 52 minutes from my doorstep to my workplace. I will likely use this new TEL4 line to cut costs when going home. Using it to get to work could still be a stretch time-wise because it is preferable that I reach arrive before 7am,” said Ms Ng.

She is among 20 commuters who boarded the first train that departed from Bayshore MRT towards Woodlands North at 6.12am on TEL4’s first day of passenger service.

Spanning 10.8km, the TEL4 stretch consists of seven stations – Tanjong Rhu, Katong Park, Tanjong Katong, Marine Parade, Marine Terrace, Siglap and Bayshore, providing commuters in the East Coast area with alternative travel options.

Another early riser was Mr Chua Kin Tong, 69, who was headed for his daily exercise class at East Coast Park at 7am from his home near Bayshore station.

“I usually drive, but I’m taking today’s journey as a trial to see how long it would take for me (to get to my exercise class),” said Mr Chua, who alighted at Marine Parade station.

“If it’s convenient, I hope to be able to save on parking costs, which is about $3.50 per day,” added Mr Chua.

Madam Janice Lau, who lives in a condo that is a five-minute walk from Bayshore station, wanted to get on the first train because she had been waiting for the opening for a long time.

“It’s very exciting because it’s so near my home. It’ll be easier for me to get to all the places I usually frequent, like Gardens by the Bay and the city,” said Madam Lau, who is in her 60s.

Train enthusiasts were also among those who made the special effort to hop on the first TEL4 train.

Institute of Technical Education student Chong Zu Heng, 20, arrived at Bayshore station at 4.50am via a Grab car ride from his home in Tiong Bahru. As the shutters rolled up at 6am, he was the first commuter to step foot into the station.

Mr Chong, who has been fascinated by trains for as long as he can remember, also attended the TEL3 opening in November 2022, and the June 2023 launch of new trains that have features like larger windows.

He kept a lookout for designs unique to each TEL4 station, such as skylights at Katong Park station that allow natural light in.

“Because the trains on TEL4 have windows at the front, I will be able to see into the tunnel and how the trains move and turn,” said Mr Chong.

Primary school pupil Tan Teck Ern, 10, was so eager to be on the first train that he got his father, who wanted to be known only as Mr Tan, 40, to drive from their Bishan home to Bayshore station in the early morning.

On his first impressions of TEL4, he said: “The stations are more elderly-friendly and the escalators have floor-level lighting to show you which direction it is moving. The new hybrid cooling fans are also probably more energy efficient.”

Businesses operating near TEL4 stations are hoping that the increased connectivity will bring more footfall and a boost to their revenues.

The seven new stations were opened to the public on June 21 for a preview that drew around 380,000 people, and heartland operators saw an uptick in business.

At Marine Parade Central Market and Food Centre, hawkers were abuzz with excitement, with the preview having brought in so many patrons on June 21 that all tables were filled.

The Marine Parade station exit is right outside the hawker centre.

Madam Winnie Lee, who has been selling economic bee hoon at Xin Long Cooked Food for six years, said business jumped about 30 per cent on the preview day.

“We don’t open on Sunday, but we decided to do it today because of the good response (on the day of the preview.) If business is good, we might consider operating on Sundays,” said the 50-year-old.

Similarly, manager at Bakery Cuisine’s Marine Parade Central outlet Zhang Jing said sales jumped by about 30 per cent on preview day.

“If business continues to improve, we will consider introducing new products and flavours,” said Ms Zhang.

Speaking to The Straits Times at about 9am, SMRT station manager Chin Hong Wei, who looks after Tanjong Rhu station, said operations were running smoothly, and crowds were manageable.

Mr Chin and his team have been working since August 2023 to get the station up and running. In the days leading up to the TEL4 opening, they made sure that lifts, public announcement systems and air-conditioning were working, ensured there was enough manpower to handle any unforeseen circumstances and familiarised staff with key landmarks near the station so they can assist passengers.

Tanjong Rhu station is also close to 1km from the National Stadium, which hosts frequent concerts and sporting events. The team has already put in place protocols to manage large crowds.

“We have drawn up how much manpower we would need, and have equipment like queue poles, light sticks and portable PA sets. We are looking forward to the next concert so we have a gauge of the crowd we’ll encounter,” said Mr Chin.

He added: “I definitely feel a sense of satisfaction, because I saw what the station was like from the start, and now commuters have given us good feedback.”