History of the North South Line

Main Article: North South Line

The North South Line (NSL) is a high capacity MRT line and the first MRT line in Singapore to enter service, connecting the northern and southern regions of the island through Central Singapore. It is 44km long with 27 stations, running from Jurong East (NS1) in the West to Marina South Pier (NS28) in the South, via Woodlands (NS9) in the North.

Timeline of the North South Line
Date Sector opened
07 November 1987 Yio Chu Kang – Toa Payoh
12 December 1987 NovenaRaffles Place
20 December 1988 Khatib & Yishun
4 November 1989 Marina Bay (Start of formal separation of NSL and EWL, with interchange at City Hall and Raffles Place)
10 March 1990 Jurong EastChoa Chu Kang (Initially part of the Branch Line)
10 February 1996 Sembawang – Yew Tee (Branch Line absorbed into NSL)
23 November 2014 Marina South Pier
2 November 2019 Canberra


Main Article: History of the Singapore MRT

The conceptualization of Singapore’s first MRT line was born out of multiple studies and deliberations spanning over a decade. With initial studies beginning in 1972, and long debates over the feasibility of building the MRT versus an all-bus network, the Government finally gave the MRT the go-ahead on May 1982 with an allocated budget of S$5 billion.

The initial plan called for 67 kilometres of track to be constructed, along with 42 stations, of which 26 would be elevated, 1 at grade and 15 underground. Also included were three train depots at Bishan, Ulu Pandan and Changi.

Two MRT lines would be constructed in a north-south and east-west alignment intersecting in the City. The North South Line would run from Yishun to Marina Bay, while the East West Line would run from Boon Lay to Pasir Ris, with a Branch Line to Choa Chu Kang splitting at Jurong East. The network was constructed in stages, with the North South Line given priority as it served the densely populated housing estates of Bishan / Ang Mo Kio, as well as the Central region. On 22 October 1983, the ground-breaking ceremony was held at Shan Road.

Sixty-six (66) trainsets comprising six cars each were procured. They were manufactured from 1986 to 1989 by a Japanese consortium led by Kawasaki Heavy Industries and joined by Nippon Sharyo, Tokyu Car Corp (now J-TREC) and Kinki Sharyo. The first C151 train was delivered to MRT Corporation on 8 July 1986 at Bishan Depot.

First Phase (1987 – 1989)

The North South Line opened in stages between 1987 to 1989. The first section of the MRT network between Yio Chu Kang and Toa Payoh opened on 7 November 1987, marking a milestone in Singapore MRT history.

A month later, the line extended south to Raffles Place, where southbound train services would switch lines between City Hall and Raffles Place, and continue along on the East West Line. The line extended north to Yishun in 1988, and finally extended south to Marina Bay in 1989, with formal separation of North South Line and East West Line operations that same day.

In 1990, Jurong East to Choa Chu Kang stations opened as part of the Branch Line, which were eventually assimilated into the North South Line in 1996 when the Woodlands Extension opened between Yishun and Choa Chu Kang.

Date Sector opened
07 November 1987 Yio Chu Kang – Toa Payoh (NSL)
12 December 1987 NovenaOutram Park  (NSL/EWL)
Trains ran through-services to Tanjong Pagar and Outram Park (part of the EWL), switching tracks between Raffles Place and City Hall
20 December 1988 Khatib & Yishun (NSL)
4 November 1989 BugisTanah Merah (EWL) and Marina Bay (NSL)
Start of formal separation of NSL and EWL, with interchange at City Hall and Raffles Place
10 March 1990 Jurong EastChoa Chu Kang (Branch Line)

Second Phase (1996) – Woodlands Extension

In 1990, the same year the East West Line was fully opened, the Government put up a proposal to build the 16-kilometre Woodlands MRT line at a cost of S$1.3 billion. The proposal called for the extension of the existing North-South and East-West lines to connect Choa Chu Kang in the west to Yishun in the north via Woodlands, with changes made to accommodate the 1991 Concept Plan by the Urban Redevelopment Authority aiming to develop Woodlands into the northern hub of Singapore.

In the original plan, the Woodlands MRT line had only four stations: Admiralty, Woodlands, Marsiling and Yew Tee. In a later revision, Sembawang and Kadut stations were added to the plan as part of a second construction stage. In the final plan, Kadut station was dropped and Kranji station was added next to the Singapore Turf Club. All stations would be built as part of one construction stage.

The groundbreaking ceremony was held on 14 July 1992, on a small hill along Woodlands Avenue 3 where a cut-and-cover tunnel would later be built. Woodlands Station was also constructed with Woodlands Regional Bus Interchange, an underground bus interchange below the station.

Nineteen (19) C651 trains comprising six cars each were also procured. They were manufactured by German company Siemens Aktiengesellschaft for almost S$259 million, taking up a quarter of the budget for the Woodlands Extension. As a result, each train carries a price tag of S$13.6 million, as compared to S$9 million for the C151 train in 1984, a figure partially attributed to inflation.

The Woodlands Extension was officially opened by then Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong on 10 February 1996. That same day, the Branch Line was assimilated into the North South Line as trains run through from Jurong East to Marina Bay.

Jurong East Modification Project (2011)

North South Line trains at Jurong East previously relied on a single platform at Jurong East, where trains had to take turns to arrive and depart from the station, representing a bottleneck for the entire line. To reduce overcrowding and improve carrying capacity, two new platforms and a new track was built at Jurong East, allowing two North South Line trains to enter and depart the station at the same time.

Construction commenced in 2009. Twenty-two (22) C151A trains were also procured to increase the carrying capacity of both the North South and East West Lines. The new platform opened on 27 May 2011, in use only during the morning peak hours (7:00 am to 9:00 am). From 27 December 2011, it was opened during the evening peak hour (5:00pm to 8:00pm), as well as extended during the morning peak hour to end at 10:00am.

North South Line Extension (2014)

The North South Line was extended southwards to Marina South Pier via 1-km long extension which opened on 23 November 2014. Construction was closely coordinated with the Marina Coastal Expressway (MCE) which was also being built at the same time, with the cut-and-cover tunnels running underneath the roadway.

At opening, only one in four southbound trains operated to Marina South Pier, with the remainder terminating at Marina Bay. By  early 2017, all southbound trains operated to Marina South Pier.

Canberra Station (2019)

Constructed between Yishun and Sembawang stations, Canberra MRT Station is the second infill station to be built along the Singapore MRT network, after Dover which opened in 2001.

Construction began in March 2016 and the station will be opened on 2 November 2019.

Brickland & Sungei Kadut Station (Mid-2030s)

Announced in the Land Transport Master Plan 2040, two new stations, Brickland and Sungei Kadut, will be built along the North South Line by Mid-2030s.

Brickland will be built between Bukit Gombak and Choa Chu Kang stations, while Sungei Kadut will be built between Yew Tee and Kranji stations.

Sungei Kadut station will also be an interchange station with the Downtown Line, as part of the Downtown Line Stage 2 Extension.


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