The final stage of the Downtown Line will be a game-changer for residents in the east of Singapore, said Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of Downtown Line 3 (DTL3) at Expo Station on Friday (20 October), Khaw thanked the DTL team involved in the project, as well as the residents, schools and businesses near the DTL3 construction sites.
“We have caused you much inconvenience, noise, dust and even sleepless nights. We deeply appreciate your tolerance. We will now ensure that you get to enjoy the convenience that the DTL3 brings to your doorstep,” said Khaw, who is also Coordinating Minister for Infrastructure.
The 64-year-old noted that the rail network has been expanded significantly over the last six years, with 41 new stations added and the rail network length grown by a third. The completion of DTL3, which was “one of the biggest engineering challenges in Singapore”, now means that Singapore has five full MRT lines.
The project involved teasing out narrow corridors around existing buildings and infrastructure and introducing new innovative diversion techniques, said the minister. For example, parts of the Singapore River were moved and rerouted to build the tunnels around the Fort Canning Station.
The DTL3 launch, which completes the longest underground rail line in Singapore, comes just days after the top management of SMRT apologised for a massive disruption on the North-South Line early this month. An SMRT senior executive in charge of maintenance and systems was subsequently replaced.
The disruption was triggered when an anti-flood system between Bishan and Braddell stations failed to work, causing the tunnel to be flooded. Khaw put the blame squarely on the maintenance team at Bishan, saying that they had “failed us”.
On Sunday (15 October), the DTL3 open house was marred by a train fault on the main Downtown Line, which led to commuters having to disembark. At a press conference on Wednesday (18 October), Khaw put this down to “bad luck”.
The Downtown Line is run by SBS Transit. Commuters can enjoy two free days of travel on DTL3 this weekend.