Thomson-East Coast Line

  Thomson-East Coast Line  
Type Medium-capacity rail
Station Count 32 (Under construction)
Line length 43 km (Under construction)
Termini Woodlands North
Sungei Bedok
Tanah Merah (By 2040)
Depot Mandai Depot
East Coast Depot
Operational Data
Operator SMRT Trains Ltd
Rolling stock Kawasaki-Sifang CT251
Electrification 750 V DC third rail
Track gauge Standard Gauge (1435mm)
Opened By End Jan 2020 (Stage 1)
2020 – 2024 (Stage 2-5)

The Thomson-East Coast Line (TEL) is a fully underground and driverless MRT line that connects the Northern and Eastern regions via the Central region and the new downtown. When fully opened, the line will be about 43 km long with 32 stations, running from Woodlands North (TE1) to Sungei Bedok (TE31) via the Thomson, Stevens, Orchard, Marina Bay, Tanjong Rhu, Marine Parade and Upper East Coast.

First announced on 15 August 2014, the line was formed by the merger of the planned Thomson Line (TSL) and Eastern Region Line (ERL). It will open in stages from Year 2020 to 2024. The line was originally slated to open by Year 2019.

In the Land Transport Master Plan 2040, a future extension, the Thomson-East Coast Line Extension, was mentioned. The extension will extend the line from the eastern Sungei Bedok terminus to Tanah Merah, via Changi Airport Terminal 5 and Expo. The existing Changi Airport Branch of the East West Line (Tanah Merah—Expo—Changi Airport) will be converted to part of the Thomson-East Coast Line by around 2040.

The line will be served first by Mandai Depot, and East Coast Integrated Depot by Year 2024. Rolling stock on the TEL is the Kawasaki Heavy Industries & CSR Qingdao Sifang CT251, operating in a four-car formation, with a total of 91 trainsets ordered (364 vehicles).


Timeline & History

  • 25 Jan 2008: Thomson Line announced; architectural and engineering consultancy packages released
  • 16 Jun 2011: Announcement of Mandai Depot, interchange with NSL at Woodlands, and integration of the future RTS Link terminus with the Thomson Line’s northern terminus
  • 18 Oct 2011: Announcement of Eastern Region Line
  • 27 Jun 2014: Groundbreaking ceremony at Woodlands for Stages 1 to 3
  • 15 Aug 2014: Merger of Thomson Line and Eastern Region Line, forming the Thomson–East Coast Line
  • 21 July 2016: Groundbreaking ceremony at Marine Parade for Stages 4 and 5
  • 15 Sep 2017: SMRT Trains Ltd awarded 9-year operating contract for the Thomson-East Coast Line
  • 7 Jan 2019: Founders’ Memorial Station announced to be built as part of Thomson-East Coast Line Stage 4, scheduled for opening in 2025
  • 25 May 2019: Extension to Tanah Merah via Changi Airport Terminal 5 announced in Land Transport Master Plan 2040, taking over existing EWL Changi Branch Line between Tanah Merah and Changi Airport
  • 19 Sep 2019: Stage 1 announced to open by end of January 2020, before Chinese New Year

Thomson stretch

The Thomson Line (TSL) was first announced on 25 January 2008 between Woodlands and Marina Bay, which would connect with to future Eastern Region Line extending to the East. In 2010, while architectural and engineering consultancy tenders were gradually released, the line had increased from 18 to 22 stations, and the length increased from 27 km to 30 km.

The TSL Depot (which would also house a bus depot) was built at Mandai on a 32 ha site and able to stable up to 90 trains, with construction beginning in end-2012. At Woodlands North, the terminus will connect with the Johor Bahru RTS Link. Construction of the TSL began in 2014 with all station working names confirmed as final names with the exception of Sin Ming station, which was changed to Bright Hill.

Woodlands, Caldecott, Stevens, Orchard, Outram Park and Marina Bay were planned as interchange stations with existing lines. Additionally, Tagore station (between Springleaf and Lentor) is built as a station box which would be furnished and opened in the future when the area is more developed.

East Coast stretch

Originally planned as the Eastern Region Line (ERL), it was first announced in 2001 as a 40 km oblong-shaped line looping around Jalan Besar and Expo. This northern section has since been integrated into the Downtown Line Stage 3 and the southern section was retained as the ERL, planned from Marina Bay to Sungei Bedok and interchanging with the Thomson Line.

The ERL Depot was to be an Integrated Depot in Changi which also houses the East-West Line and Downtown Line.

Merger

The Land Transport Authority (LTA) merged the Thomson and the Eastern Region lines to form the Thomson-East Coast Line (TEL) on 15 August 2014.

Construction of the TEL’s East Coast stretch (formerly the ERL) began in 2016 with all station working names confirmed as final names with the exception of Amber station, which was changed to Tanjong Katong.

Johor Bahru RTS Link

In December 2016, it was announced that the Rapid Transit System (RTS) link between Woodlands North and Bukit Chagar (Johor Bahru) will adopt Singapore’s Thomson-East Coast line system, including its signalling system, rolling stock, communication system and integrated supervisory control system, to reap economies of scale.

Operator Tender Award

A nine-year contract for the operation of the TEL was awarded to SMRT Trains Ltd on 15 September 2017, in a tender called in February 2017 and participated by SBS Transit and SMRT. In the two-envelope tender, SMRT Trains received a higher quality score. In particular, its proposal featured a commitment to invest heavily in predictive and reliability-centred maintenance to enhance reliability. SMRT Trains’ proposal also included a strong staff development plan, including customer-oriented training, and tailored community engagement initiatives. SMRT Trains also undertook a set of contractual guarantees in the form of service fee deductions should key obligations not be met. The total service fee over 9 years ($1.7 billion) quoted by SMRT Trains was also about 30% lower than that quoted by SBS Transit.

Additional Station – Founders’ Memorial

On 7 January 2019, LTA announced the that Founders’ Memorial MRT Station will be added to Stage 4 of the Thomson-East Coast Line, between Gardens by the Bay Station and Tanjong Rhu Station, scheduled for opening in 2025. It was partially constructed as a facility building (starting in 2016), and subsequently converted to a fully-furnished MRT station.

Airport Extension

As part of the Land Transport Masterplan 2040 released on 25 May 2019, the TEL Extension (TELe) was announced, which extends from Sungei Bedok to Changi Airport Terminal 5 and Changi Airport. Following which, the Changi Branch of the EWL would be converted to become part of the Thomson-East Coast Line.


Construction Stages

Stage 1 (2020): Woodlands North – Woodlands South

Stage 1 consisting of Woodlands North, Woodlands and Woodlands South stations is scheduled for opening in End January 2020, before Chinese New Year, along with Mandai Depot. Woodlands station will interchange with the North South Line.

Previously announced to open before Christmas 2019 by Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan during a visit to Bright Hill MRT station on 25 January 2019, the updated opening timeline was announced by him during a visit to Mandai Train Depot on 19 September 2019.

Stage 2 (2020): Springleaf – Caldecott

Stage 2 consisting of six stations between Springleaf and Caldecott is scheduled for opening in Year 2020. Caldecott station will interchange with the Circle Line. A station box presently referred to as Tagore station will be built between Springleaf and Lentor.

Stage 3 (2021): Mount Pleasant – Gardens by the Bay

Stage 3 consisting of thirteen stations between Mount Pleasant and Gardens by the Bay is scheduled for opening in Year 2021. Stevens station will interchange with the Downtown Line, Orchard with the North South Line, Outram Park with the East West Line and North East Line, and Marina Bay with the North South Line and Circle Line.

Stage 4 (2023): Tanjong Rhu – Bayshore

Stage 4 consisting of eight stations between Founders’ Memorial and Bayshore. Seven stations between Tanjong Rhu and Bayshore are scheduled for opening in Year 2023, while Founders’ Memorial station is scheduled for opening in Year 2025.

Stage 5 (2024): Bedok South – Sungei Bedok

Stage 5 consisting of Bedok South and Sungei Bedok stations, along with the Changi mega depot, is scheduled for opening in Year 2024. The East Coast Integrated Depot will be a 36 ha four-in-one train and bus depot which will house trains for the TEL, East-West Line and Downtown Line in addition to buses. Sungei Bedok station will interchange with the Downtown Line.

Future (Beyond 2025):

Founders’ Memorial station is scheduled for opening in Year 2025. A future extension to Changi Airport will open by 2040.


Train Stations

Fares

The Thomson-East Coast Line will charge distance-based fares as set by the Public Transport Council. All train and bus journeys in Singapore can be paid for with contactless stored value smartcards. Passengers can also purchase single journey tickets with cash, sold at General Ticketing Machines located in every station.

Adults, Children, Students, Senior Citizens, National Servicemen, Persons with Disabilities and Workfare Income Supplement recipients can use their respective concession cards to enjoy fare discounts.

Rolling Stock

Trains manufactured by Kawasaki Heavy Industries & CSR Qingdao Sifang under Contract T251 (CT251 trainsets) form the Thomson-East Coast Line rolling stock, operating in a four-car formation. A total of 91 trainsets were ordered, and are stabled at both Mandai and Changi depots. They are built in China by CSR Qingdao Sifang.

These trains will feature tip-up seats and five doors on each side of every carriage to facilitate smoother boarding and alighting.

Operator

SMRT Trains Ltd was awarded the limited tender to operate the Thomson-East Coast Line (Contract T200 – Operation of Thomson-East Coast Line) in August 2017, with a total service fee of about $1.7 billion over 9 years from the commencement of revenue service for the Thomson-East Coast Line in 2020.

The contract comes with an option to extend the operator license for 2 additional years.

Incentives-Disincentives (ID) Framework

The operator service fee is subjected to an Incentives-Disincentives (ID) framework which is piloted by LTA for this contract. Key Performance Indicators for this framework are:

  • Service Reliability
    through Service Reliability Indicators
  • Customer Satisfaction
    through customer satisfaction surveys covering various aspects of the commuter experience
  • Operations and Maintenance Processes
    through operational and maintenance audits

The operator would receive an incentive payment if these indicators are outperformed, while conversely, a service fee deduction would be made if it does not meet expectations.

The TEL operator will continue to be subject to LTA’s licensing and regulatory requirements on service and maintenance performance, such as the Operating Performance Standards, Maintenance Performance Standards, Asset Management Requirements and Codes of Practice. The new ID framework will overlay the licence penalty framework that applies to all existing licences.

Non-Fare Operators

For the TEL, LTA piloted a framework to outsource non-fare businesses to enhance both the vibrancy of TEL stations and the financial sustainability of the TEL.

The concession period is 16 years from the commencement of revenue service on the TEL.

Advertising Operator

The tender for the TEL Advertising Operator (Contract PL219 – Thomson-East Coast Line Advertising Non-Fare Operator) was awarded to Asiaray Connect Limited in August 2019 with a concession fee of more than $140M over the concession term (16 years).

Asiaray’s bid featured a mix of digital and static media products tailored to each TEL station. Its digital media products also allow for the application of advanced technologies, such as video and data analytics, for dynamic and responsive advertisements that can adapt quickly to the fast-changing preferences of commuters.

Retail Operator

The tender for the TEL Retail Operator (Contract PL220 – Thomson-East Coast Line Retail Non-Fare Operator) was awarded to a consortium comprising SMRT Experience Pte Ltd, JR East Business Development SEA Pte Ltd and Alphaplus Investments Pte Ltd in August 2019 with a concession fee of $24M over the concession term (16 years).

The consortium’s proposal includes well-designed retail spaces with a thoughtfully curated tenant mix catering to commuters’ diverse needs (including Cheers convenience stores at several TEL stations).

 


References