Experts say it is no surprise that Jurong East was chosen as the place to house Singapore’s High Speed Rail terminus as it is set to become Singapore’s next CBD, and plans to develop the general area had been announced previously.
SINGAPORE: After Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced that Singapore’s High Speed Rail terminus will be located at Jurong East, experts have suggested several possible sites within Jurong East where the High Speed Rail terminus could be located.
They said it is no surprise that Jurong East was chosen as the place to house Singapore’s High Speed Rail terminus as it is set to become Singapore’s next Central Business District (CBD), and plans to develop the general area had been announced previously.
A transport expert suggested that a possible location is the site of the former Tang Dynasty City theme park, along Yuan Ching Road. Another option is the area carved out after a portion of the Ayer Rajah Expressway is realigned. A housing analyst also suggested the reserve site along Jurong Town Hall Road.
Wherever the site is located, experts stressed that connectivity will be the key. They noted that many had hoped the terminus could be connected with the current Jurong East MRT station and bus interchange.
Professor Lee Der Horng, from the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the National University of Singapore, said that even though many expect the High Speed Rail station to be located near the Jurong East MRT Station and bus interchange, there will challenges and limitations to make that happen.
Prof Lee also said he expects that one of the Government’s biggest considerations will be integrating Singapore’s transportation infrastructure with the High Speed Rail line.
He said: “In the future, we will have the Jurong Region Line and the Cross Island Line in the Jurong East area, so there will be the different stations from the different MRT lines.
“Since we are all bringing the passengers, commuters to the Jurong East area, and the High Speed Rail station is one of the transportation infrastructure which is not within Singapore – it is (considered) international infrastructure – (how do we) facilitate the connection between this High Speed Rail line with our internal, inland transportation infrastructure, so that the commuter can really receive the benefits to travel conveniently? I think is going to be the major consideration by the Government authorities.”
Prof Lee also said that while building underground may be less disruptive to existing developments, it will be more costly and time consuming. So a combination of having a station at the surface level with elevated High Speed Rail tracks could be a solution.
“(Having it) underground will be less disruptive to the neighbouring developments. But if we choose the station to be at the ground level, we would be able to shorten the construction time. In the long-term, looking at maintenance and security, (having the station) at the ground level may be easier to manage,” said Prof Lee.
Experts said the next step will be for Singapore and Malaysia to decide on the financing model for the project. For example, if it should be directly funded by both governments and if so, how much of the bill each side should foot, considering not only the distribution and maintenance of the High Speed Rail, but the benefits brought to both sides as well.
Mr Desmond Sim, head of CBRE Research for Singapore and Southeast Asia, said the choice of Jurong East for the High Speed Rail terminus makes the “most economical sense”, and one that is most convenient for commuters, given its links to major MRT lines and the upcoming Jurong Region Line.
“This could be the most important and final piece of the puzzle to seal Jurong Gateway’s status as a regional commercial hub, the same way that Tampines has the airport, and Woodlands, the Causeway to link Malaysia with Singapore,” he said. “Firms with a high exposure to Singapore’s northern neighbours will also find Jurong Gateway particularly attractive.”
Cushman and Wakefield’s research director, Ms Christine Li, said Jurong East is a “highly attractive” location for the terminus, as not only does it have three MRT stations and a bus interchange, it is also connected to the CBD and Changi Airport by major expressways.
“Vacant land is still available for development, so construction cost is relatively low as compared to city centre due to minimal tunnelling. It is also the biggest commercial hub outside the Central Business District, boasting retail, office and hotel offerings, which beats the far-flung industrial area Tuas West,” she said.
Cushman and Wakefield predicts that Jurong Gateway could emerge as “a new urban centre in the greater Singapore-KL megacity”, once the High Speed Rail is in operation. “Its strategic location could complement that in the CBD and over time, it will become a mini-city on its own with work, live and play in the bustling regional hub,” Ms Li added.
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