North East Line

  North East Line  
Dhoby Ghaut MRT Station
Dhoby Ghaut MRT Station
Type Mass Rapid Transit (MRT)
Station Count 16 (17 by 2024)
Line length 19.2 km
20.8km by 2024
Termini HarbourFront
Punggol Coast
Depot Sengkang Depot
Operational Data
Operator SBS Transit Rail Pte. Ltd.
Rolling stock Alstom Metropolis C751A
Alstom Metropolis C751C
Alstom Metropolis C851E
Electrification 1500 V DC overhead catenary
Overhead conductor rail (NELe)
Track gauge Standard Gauge (1435mm)
Opened 20 Jun 2003
Year 2024 (NEL extension)

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, utilizing a radio-based CBTC signalling system. Operating in six-car formations, the rolling stock is based out of the at-grade Sengkang Depot, located just off Sengkang East Avenue.

The North-East Line extension (NELe) will add an additional station (NE18 Punggol Coast) in the Punggol Downtown area by 2024. This was brought forward by 6 years based on the initially planned 2030 timeframe.

Technical Details:

Unique to the North East Line is the use of 1500V DC overhead catenary wires for electrification. Other MRT lines in Singapore use a bottom-contact third rail electrified at 750 V DC. Overhead conductor rails were installed on the NELe in place of overhead catenary wires.

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
  • 2024: North East Line Extension to Punggol Coast

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.

The groundbreaking ceremony was held on 25 November 1997 and the line 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.

Following the opening of the North East Line, large-scale bus rationalisation was carried out to reduce route duplication. 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.

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 led to Buangkok station opening on 15 January 2006 despite low passenger numbers. Subsequently, Woodleigh station opened on 20 June 2011 as more developments emerged in the area.

North East Line Extension (NELe)

The North East Line Extension (NELe) was first announced on 17 January 2013 to serve the upcoming Punggol Downtown, with a projected commencement date at 2030. On 7 June 2017, it was announced that the extension will be 1.6-kilometres long with a single station, Punggol Coast, serving the Northshore District, Punggol Point District, Punggol Digital District and the Singapore Institute of Technology’s new campus.

Initially projected for completion in Year 2023, the COVID-19 pandemic delayed the opening to Year 2024. This was announced during a visit by Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung on 13 November 2020, at a ceremony to mark the completion of tunnel boring works from the existing Punggol station to the future Punggol Coast station. Around 40% of construction work was completed by then.

Train Stations

By Year 2024:

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 to the C751A, these trains are built in China by Shanghai Alstom Transport Co. Ltd., a joint venture between Alstom and Shanghai Electric, between 2014–2016.

Alstom Metropolis C851E trainsets were ordered to increase the capacity of the North East Line for the North East Line Extension, also operating in a six-car formation. A total of 6 trainsets were ordered for the North East Line variant. The trains are manufactured and assembled in Alstom’s manufacturing facility in Barcelona, Spain and progressively shipped to Singapore from 2020. These trains entered revenue service from 28 July 2023.

Additions and Alterations:

In 2012, LTA spent S$8.2 million to extend the North East Line’s overrun tunnel by around 50 metres to facilitate faster train turnarounds. Works were completed at around end 2014/early 2015.

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