North East Line

  North East Line  
Dhoby Ghaut MRT Station
Dhoby Ghaut MRT Station
Type Mass Rapid Transit (MRT)
Station Count 16
Line length 19.2 km
Termini HarbourFront
Punggol
Depot Sengkang Depot
Operational Data
Operators SBS Transit
Rolling stock Alstom Metropolis C751A 
Alstom Metropolis C751C
Electrification 1500 V DC overhead catenary
Track gauge Standard Gauge (1435mm)
Opened 20 Jun 2003

The North East Line (NEL) is an underground, driverless, high-capacity MRT line and the third rail line in Singapore, running from Central Singapore to the North East regions. The line is currently 19.2km long with 16 stations, from HarbourFront (NE1) to Punggol (NE17).

When opened, the NEL was the first fully automated underground heavy rail line in the world. Operating in six-car formations, the rolling stock is based out of the at-grade Sengkang Depot, located just off Sengkang East Avenue.

There are plans for a future extension that will add an additional station in the Punggol Downtown area. The station code NE2 is unused, reserved for a possible future station between NE1 HarbourFront and NE3 Outram Park.

Timeline & History

  • 20 Jun 2003: Opening of the full North East Line, except Woodleigh and Buangkok stations
  • 15 Jan 2006: Buangkok station opens
  • 20 Jun 2011: Woodleigh station opens

The North East Line was planned to link the Northeastern housing estates of Serangoon and Hougang to the City while improving rail connections in the City around the Clarke Quay, Chinatown and Outram Park areas. It would also support the rapidly developing new towns of Sengkang and Punggol.

Construction work began on 1 January 1997 and was fully completed on 20 January 2001. SBS Transit (formerly Singapore Bus Service) was also chosen to operate the line, to break the SMRT monopoly over rail transport in Singapore. Intended to open in December 2002, technical issues with the automation delayed the opening to 20th June 2003. Slightly higher fares were implemented to compensate for the higher construction costs.

The line opened with Woodleigh and Buangkok stations closed, intended to be opened at a later date when the surrounding areas are more developed. Public pressure lead to Buangkok station opening on 15 January 2006 despite low passenger numbers. Subsequently, Woodleigh station opened on 20 June 2011 as more developments began to spring up in the area, but continues to encounter very low demand.

Following the opening of the North East Line, large-scale bus rationalization was carried out to reduce route duplication with the North South Line. As a result, many Upper Serangoon Road services from Serangoon / Hougang South / Hougang / Sengkang / Punggol were amended or withdrawn entirely, with the notable exception of Bus Service 147.

Unique to the North East Line is the use of a 1500V DC overhead catenary electrification. Other MRT lines in Singapore use a bottom-contact third rail electrified with 750 V DC.

Train Stations

Rolling Stock

Alstom Metropolis C751A trainsets form the North East Line rolling stock, operating in a six-car formation. A total of 25 trainsets were ordered, as part of Contract 751A, and are stabled at Sengkang Depot. They are built in France by Alstom between 2000–2001.

Alstom Metropolis C751C trainsets were ordered to increase the capacity of the North East Line, also operating in a six-car formation. A total of 18 trainsets were ordered, as part of Contract 751C, and are also stabled at Sengkang Depot. Largely similar in design as their C751A cousins, these trains are built in China by Shanghai Alstom Transport Co. Ltd., a joint venture between Alstom and Shanghai Electric, between 2014–2016.