Changi Airport Branch Line to become part of Thomson-East Coast Line

The Changi Airport Branch Line will undergo conversion from the East West Line (EWL) to become part of the Thomson-East Coast Line (TEL). Three stations—Tanah Merah, Expo, and Changi Airport, will be modified to allow TEL trains to operate on them, in line with the Land Transport Authority’s initiatives outlined in the Land Transport Master Plan 2040.

Modification works to convert the East West Line section between Tanah Merah and Changi Airport will commence in 2025, according to delivery dates specified in Contract T3206. These works are expected to be completed by 2031.

By 2040, the Thomson-East Coast Line will be extended beyond its current terminus at TE31DT37 Sungei Bedok station to CG2 Changi Airport. Called the Thomson-East Coast Line Extension (TELe), it will pass through the future Terminal 5 and eventually connect to Expo and Tanah Merah stations, forming a continuous line between Woodlands North and Tanah Merah.

Initial reporting in LTMP 2040

In May 2019, the Land Transport Master Plan 2040 announced the Thomson-East Coast Line Extension (TELe) linking Sungei Bedok Station to Changi Airport. This extension will traverse through the anticipated Terminal 5 and integrate with the segment between Tanah Merah and Changi Airport on the East-West Line, which is slated for conversion to become part of the TELe.

Besides establishing a direct rail link from Changi Airport to the City, the TELe will seamlessly connect Changi Airport to stations along the TEL up to Woodlands North. This connectivity will enable commuters to potentially transfer to and from the future Singapore-Johor Bahru Rapid Transit System Link.

Changi Airport Terminal 5 station will be an interchange station between the TEL and the Cross Island Line (CRL). An extension of the CRL from Aviation Park to Changi Airport T5 has yet to be formally announced, nor has the alignment of the TELe between Sungei Bedok and Changi Airport.

Tanah Merah Modification Project

Currently, the Changi Airport Branch Line operates as a shuttle train service between EW4CG Tanah Merah and CG2 Changi Airport along the East West Line, with only a single platform at Tanah Merah. A new platform is being constructed at Tanah Merah station for eastbound East West Line services, freeing up a second middle platform at Tanah Merah that will facilitate faster train turnarounds, allowing trains to arrive and depart at the station at shorter intervals.

Contract T315 – Addition and Alteration Works to Existing Tanah Merah Station and Existing Viaducts was awarded to Lum Chang Building Contractors Pte Ltd for S$325 million in October 2016.

Connection to East Coast Depot

When completed in 2026, East Coast Integrated Depot will serve the EWL, DTL and TEL under one roof. A single reception track was also built to connect the TELe with the East Coast Integrated Depot.

Project Challenges

The EWL and TEL utilize different rolling stock, signalling systems, and associated railway subsystems. Therefore, system modification works are required to enable TEL trains to operate on the existing EWL tracks.

Another challenge relates to the configuration of train doors. EWL trains are configured in six-car sets with four doors per car, whereas TEL trains are configured in four-car sets with five doors per car. Modifications or replacement of the existing platform screen doors will be necessary to accommodate this difference. Additionally, at Changi Airport station, the positioning of columns prevents TEL trains from opening all doors simultaneously. This may require implementing selective door operation, unless alternative solutions can be found to address this constraint.

Furthermore, the above-ground segments of the Changi Airport branch line introduce additional operational considerations for the TEL, which predominantly operates underground except for Mandai Depot, an open-air facility. These considerations may have already been addressed during the proposal of the T251 fleet for operation on the RTS Link.

Changi Airport Branch Modification Works

Modification works to the existing East West Line stations at Tanah Merah, Expo and Changi Airport would be done under Contract T3206 – Addition and Alteration to Changi Airport Line. The tender was called on 29 April 2024.

According to delivery dates specified, modification works are expected to commence in 2025, and are due for completion by 2031.

TELe Civil Engineering Works

Contract T316 – Changi Airport Underground Infrastructure – involves the construction and completion of twin bored tunnels extending eastward from CG2 Changi Airport station towards CR1TExx Changi Airport T5 (final station name to be announced). This scope includes the construction of associated cross passages, launch shafts, underground infrastructure, low point sumps within the tunnels, and related ancillary works.

Shanghai Tunnel Engineering Co (Singapore) Pte Ltd (STEC) was awarded Contract T316 for S$321.7 million. In 2022, STEC’s website indicated a contract duration from October 2019 to September 2026. However, as of 2024, the website has been updated to reflect a revised timeframe spanning from 2019 to 2031.

Track Diagrams:

Future track diagrams are indicative only and subject to changes.

See Also


22 thoughts on “Changi Airport Branch Line to become part of Thomson-East Coast Line

  • 6 May 2024 at 11:40 AM

    Should build top so can see the area views, but lta build underground too bad nothing seems like almost

  • 5 May 2024 at 5:19 PM

    Actually the “twin bored tunnels” between T2 and T5 can become the TEL eventually, if the diameter is wide enough. Don’t really need to have a separate airport people mover system and the TEL to run concurrently with one another, which would be a waste of resources.

    If they got foresight, which I’m sure they do, this “twin bored tunnels” is most probably the first part of the TEL absorption of the Changi Airport branch line already. And later on, just extend further from T5 to Sungei Bedok station can already.


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