Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Tuas West Extension Open House 2017


Another year, another MRT line. This time round, it will be the Tuas West Extension (TWE), a short extension on the western end of the East West Line. The extension opened on Sunday 18 June 2017 with a small open house held on Friday afternoon on the 16th of June organised by Singapore's Land Transport Authority and train operator, SMRT. Here are the highlights of the TWE Open House.

What is the Tuas West Extension?


The Tuas West Extension or TWE is an extension of the East West MRT Line at the western end. Consisting of four MRT stations, Gul Circle, Tuas Crescent, Tuas West Road and Tuas Link, the extension aims to provide easy connectivity to the ever-expanding Tuas Industrial estate.

Commuters can also look forward to easy connectivity to the Tuas Second Link as an alternative to the always-crowded Woodlands Causeway with the opening of the extension.

History of the East West Line


Previously, the East West Line just ran from Pasir Ris all the way to Boon Lay in the west. As demand and population grew, more MRT stations were built since its opening in the 1990s which includes Dover, Expo and Changi Airport MRT Stations in the early 2000s to Pioneer and Joo Koon in 2009.

With the new extension to the Tuas West district, this just proves that the government is willing to invest in their public transport infrastructure to meet the demand and population no matter the challenge and costs.

Getting to the Tuas West Extension Open House


Since the TWE was not officially opened, visitors to the open house had to alight at Joo Koon MRT Station and transfer to a free shuttle bus that comes at a frequency of 30min. For those not willing to wait, an SBS public bus service was available right opposite the entrance of Joo Koon Bus Interchange to get to the open house.

Sneak Peek at Gul Circle MRT Station


The first station of the Tuas West Extension is Gul Circle MRT Station. The design of the station, along with the other 3 TWE stations, looks more modern than other above ground MRT stations. A unique feature of Gul Circle is the fact that it contains four train platforms instead of the usual two and has three levels instead of the usual two. Think of it as an above ground version of City Hall and Raffles Place MRT stations.


Why four platforms? In the future, Gul Circle will be an interchange station to serve the future Tuas South extension for the industries in the Southern part of Tuas.

Station Sneak Peek at Tuas Crescent MRT Station


Over at Tuas Crescent MRT Station, a unique feature of the station is that right underneath the station and train tracks is where you can find the Tuas Viaduct. It is the first of such road structures in Singapore where a road viaduct is running parallel and underneath a pair of MRT viaducts.


The reason? Probably to save space considering the limited land space in the Tuas area and to provide easy connectivity for motorists navigating around the Tuas area.

Station Sneak Peek at Tuas Link MRT Station


After more than 8 years, Tuas Link will replace Joo Koon as the terminating station at the Western end of the East West Line. Getting to the western end of Singapore is so much easier thanks to Tuas Link MRT station. Tuas Link will also be the first above ground MRT station where the station concourse is located one level above the station platforms. This is due to the presence of overrun tracks and a pair of tracks that leads the trains directly into the Tuas MRT Depot.


Tuas Link Station is also home to the famous Raffles Marina lighthouse popular among the Instagram community with its insta-worthy sights and the Tuas Second Link located nearby providing commuters an alternative pathway to Malaysia.

Free Train Rides


An MRT Open House can't be official without free train rides. Free rides were aplenty with trains running at a high frequency and the trains used are the new batch of trains currently being used in the North South Line. Inside the train, it may look similar to the existing ones with the only difference being that it's more brightly-lit, better ventilated and has new LCD screens that show important info of the MRT station it's pulling up to along with the next few stations.


The new MRT trains also come with this unique pixelated livery currently being used in the LRT trains, SMRT buses and taxis. Riding on the train along the Tuas Industrial Estate lets you soak in all the unique views of the industrial buildings and the deep blue sea.

Performances & Activities


As with all MRT open houses, there were plenty of free performances and activities for members of the public to enjoy. There was a caricature session, workshops for kids, stage games and free performances by local indie bands and artists.


Unlike past open houses where they're mostly located in underground MRT lines, the environment at TWE stations are different as they're above ground stations. However, plenty of temporary fans were installed to keep up with the ventilation complementing the existing permanent giant ventilation fans.

Other Fun Facts About The Tuas West Extension


Apart from the sneak peeks shown to earlier, here are some more fun facts about the TWE. The new signalling system, currently in use on the North South Line, are also being used on the TWE but not on the rest of the East West Line. Only during the open house where you can see the new trains being used. You won't be able to see them again on the East West Line until 2018 when the whole line will be fitted with the new system.


Other than that, Gul Circle is currently Singapore's tallest MRT station with its height equivalent to a 10 storey HDB flat. The escalators used are also the tallest beating the previous record held by Bras Basah Basah MRT Station, one of the deepest MRT stations in Singapore.

Conclusion

Although the TWE is a minor line compared to other MRT lines, the TWE still has its benefits especially to the thousands of workers working in the Tuas area. With better bus connectivity and the introduction of new bus services in the industrial estate as well, getting to Tuas will be much easier and seamless. Now, let us look forward to the Downtown Line 3 which will be opening in October 2017.

More Information

Official Website: https://www.lta.gov.sg/content/ltaweb/en/public-transport/projects/tuas-west-extension.html


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