Downtown Line

  Downtown Line  
Stevens MRT Station
Stevens MRT Station
Type Medium-capacity rail
Station Count 18 (Operational)
16 (Unopened)
2 (Under construction)
Line length 20.9 km (Operational)
23.2 km (Under construction)
Termini Bukit Panjang
Depot Gali Batu Depot
Kim Chuan Depot
Operational Data
Operators SBS Transit
Rolling stock Bombardier Movia C951
Electrification 750 V DC third rail
Track gauge Standard Gauge (1435mm)
Opened 22 Dec 2013 (Stage 1)
27 Dec 2015 (Stage 2)
Year 2017 (Stage 3)
Year 2024 (DTLe)

The Downtown Line (DTL) is an underground, driverless, medium-capacity MRT line that connects the North-Western and Central-Eastern regions to the new downtown. When fully opened, the line will be about 44 km long with 37 stations, running from Bukit Panjang (DT1) to Sungei Bedok (DT37) via Downtown (DT17). Currently, only 18 stations, from Bukit Panjang (DT1) to Chinatown (DT19), are open for passenger service.

16 remaining stations (Stage 3) are scheduled to open in 2017, extending the line to Expo (DT35), and a future extension of 2 stations is expected by Year 2024, extending the line to Sungei Bedok (DT37), linking up with the Thomson-East Coast Line and the future East Coast Integrated Depot which will accommodate East West Line, Thomson-East Coast Line and Downtown Line trains on different levels. Hume Station (reserved station code DT4) is a shell station with only structural provisions, which will be refitted and opened only when the area is more developed.

The line is fully underground (with the exception of Gali Batu Depot at surface level), and will be the longest driverless MRT line in Singapore when completed. It uses the Bombardier MOVIA C951 rolling stock, operating in a three-car formation and built by Changchun Bombardier Railway Vehicles. A total of 88 trainsets were ordered.

Timeline & History

  • 22 December 2013: Opening of Downtown Line Stage 1, with trains running between Bugis and Chinatown stations and operating from Kim Chuan Depot
  • 27 December 2015: Opening of Downtown Line Stage 2 and Gali Batu Depot, with trains running between Bukit Panjang and Chinatown stations

Stage 1

Downtown Line - Stage 1
Downtown Line – Stage 1

The Downtown Line Stage 1 between Promenade and Chinatown stations was announced on 14 June 2005, and was intended to be a 3.4-kilometre Downtown Extension of the Circle Line. The Nicoll Highway accident in 2004 was to influence the merging of the proposed Bukit Timah Line with the planned Downtown Extension as altered blueprints rendered Nicoll Highway station unsuitable for an interchange with the Bukit Timah Line. As such, the line continued north of Promenade and curved towards Bugis station instead, incorporating the Bukit Timah Line to form a new rail line, the Downtown Line.

Construction work for the 4.3-kilometre Downtown Line Stage 1 started on 12 February 2008 and consisted of six stations from Bugis to Chinatown. It commenced revenue service on 22nd December 2013, which brought about about greater connectivity to the Central areas, with enhanced rail connections to the East West Line and North East Line at both terminating stations.

As Stage 1 was disconnected from the Downtown Line’s main depot at Gali Batu, a Temporary Maintenance Facility at Marina Bay was used to provide for low-level maintenance works prior to the opening of Downtown Line Stage 2. In the meantime, trains used the Circle Line‘s Kim Chuan Depot for the launching of trains and major maintenance works. The temporary maintenance facility was built as part of the Circle Line Extension and is now used for stabling trains.

Stage 2

Downtown Line - Stage 2
Downtown Line – Stage 2

Originally planned as the Bukit Timah Line, the 16.6-kilometre Downtown Line Stage 2 would tunnel underneath the Bukit Timah corridor, adding 12 stations from Bukit Panjang to Rochor and linking up with Stage 1 at Bugis. The Gali Batu Depot would be concurrently built north of Bukit Panjang to provide maintenance and stabling facilities for Downtown Line rolling stock.

Stage 2 commenced revenue operations on 27 December 2015, with trains running the full stretch of track from Bukit Panjang to Chinatown, interchanging with the Circle, North South and North East Lines at Botanic Gardens, Newton and Little India respectively. With the Gali Batu Depot operational, the Downtown Line’s Operations Control Centre was moved from Kim Chuan Depot to Gali Batu Depot.

Construction work on Stage 2 was marred by the insolvency of a major contractor, Alpine Bau, delaying progress by months and pushing the opening date to 2016. Expedited construction work managed to bring the Downtown Line back on track, which opened in 2015 as planned.

Stage 3

The Downtown Line Stage 3 follows an early version of the Eastern Region Line proposed in 2001 that runs from Chinatown to Expo with 16 stations. The 21-kilometre section will include branch tracks leading to Kim Chuan Depot, which is concurrently undergoing large-scale expansion works to accommodate more Circle Line trains as well as Downtown Line trains. It is scheduled for completion in 2017.

The Future

The Downtown Line Stage 3 Extension was announced on 15 August 2014. Due in 2024, Xilin and Sungei Bedok MRT Station will be added to the Downtown Line, with Sungei Bedok being an interchange station with the Thomson-East Coast Line. It will add an additional 2.2 km to the line.

The East Coast Integrated Depot will further expand maintenance and stabling facilities for Downtown Line rolling stock. Being built on the site of the East West Line’s Changi Depot, ECID will be a stacked three-tier train depot for the East West Line, Thomson-East Coast Line and Downtown Line.

Train Stations

Upcoming stations:

Rolling Stock

Bombardier MOVIA C951 trainsets form the Downtown Line rolling stock, operating in a three-car formation. A total of 92 trainsets were ordered, and are stabled at Gali Batu Depot. They are built in China by Changchun Bombardier Railway Vehicles, a joint venture between Bombardier Transportation and CNR Changchun.

Recognition & Awards

Extracted from IES released documents

The Downtown Line tunnel between Fort Canning and Bencoolen MRT stations on the upcoming Downtown Line 3 was recognised by the Institution of Engineers Singapore (IES) as one of the top 50 engineering achievements with the greatest impact on Singapore since 1965.

Linking the Fort Canning and Bencoolen MRT stations, LTA engineers had to build tunnels just 1m above the existing North East Line (NEL) tunnel – the closest two lines have run on Singapore’s rail network. Built over nine months between 2013 and 2014, they also cross below the North South Line and Circle Line tunnels, at 8m and 3m respectively.

The LTA garnered 11 awards, the most by any agency. The winners were 28 public sector projects and 22 private sector projects.

Source: Straits Times and IES