As part of the slew of initiatives announced by the Land Transport Authority in the Land Transport Master Plan 2040, the Changi Branch Line will be converted to become part of the Thomson-East Coast Line.
The Thomson-East Coast Line will be extended from its original terminal at TE31DT37 Sungei Bedok station to CG2 Changi Airport, passing through the future Terminal 5, and eventually connect to Expo and Tanah Merah stations. These stations will form the Thomson-East Coast Line extension.
The LTMP 2040 confirms this:
Travelling to the airport will eventually be easier with the Thomson-East Coast Line Extension (TELe) from the new Sungei Bedok Station to Changi Airport. Passing through the future Terminal 5, this new link will also connect to the stretch between Tanah Merah and Changi Airport on the East-West Line, which will be converted to form part of the TELe. Beyond providing a direct rail connection from Changi Airport to the city, it will also seamlessly link Changi Airport to stations along the TEL up to Woodlands North, where commuters may be able to transfer to the future Singapore-Johor Bahru Rapid Transit System Link.
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. A third platform and fourth track are being constructed at Tanah Merah station to improve waiting times on the Changi Airport branch. Currently operating out of the middle track, a future fourth track will be constructed north of the station for Eastbound East West Line services, leaving the middle two tracks for train services to Changi Airport, hence allowing trains to arrive and depart at the station at shorter intervals.
It is currently not known when this extension will be built by, but is expected to open in tandem with Changi Airport Terminal 5. Construction work is slated to commence in 2022 following advance engineering studies.
Furthermore, the East West Line and Thomson-East Coast Line operate on different types of rolling stock, signalling systems, and other associated infrastructure. For instance, TEL trains have 5 doors per car, while the EWL trains have 4 door seats per car, hence requiring Platform Screen Doors to be modified. Extensive work would be required to modify the existing tracks and stations for TEL operation, and to interface legacy infrastructure prior to conversion to TEL operations.
Stay tuned for more updates from the LTMP 2040!