SINGAPORE: The opening of a new MRT station serving the upcoming Punggol Digital District has been pushed back by a year.
Punggol Coast station on the North East Line was previously scheduled to open by 2023, but will now open a year later in 2024.
Minister for Transport Ong Ye Kung on Friday (Nov 13) announced the new opening date during an event marking the completion of tunnelling works for Punggol Coast station.
"The next step is to complete the concrete structure of the station, before we fit out the station, and then we'll be ready for commuters by 2024," he said.
Mr Ong said that the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic had caused "some temporary delays" in plans for the extension of Singapore's rail network, but noted however that the country was still on track to have 360km of rail by the early 2030s.
He noted that 40 per cent of construction work for the station was completed.
The new station - part of a 1.6km extension of the North East Line - had originally been expected to open in 2030 when first conceived, but had its opening brought forward in line to coincide with developments in the area.
Mr Ong cited the importance of the "interplay" between Punggol Coast station and two upcoming developments - JTC Business Park in the Punggol Digital District and the Singapore Institute of Technology.
"It is when we integrate destination and connection synergistically that we create new possibilities. We unleash vibrancy, we generate new energy," he said.
"So you look at places like Tokyo Station in Japan, Piccadilly Circus Station in London or Grand Central Station in New York – these are synonymous with the vibrant and prosperous districts that they serve."
"OPPORTUNITIES IN CRISIS"
Mr Ong also spoke about using the COVID-19 pandemic to bring about a change in travel habits.
"Being able to seize opportunities in crisis is the greatest demonstration of resilience," the minister said.
"The old habits - crushing during morning and evening peak hours every day - is neither logical, comfortable, efficient or environmentally very friendly."
With passenger volume now at about 70 per cent that of pre-COVID levels, he said, if and when travel volume resumes, and the same rush hour peaks return, "we would have wasted the crisis".
He urged employers to adjust work arrangements, such as giving workers options to toggle between working from home and office. He said this would allow travel habits to evolve and result in a better spread of commuter traffic through the day.
"This would be an outcome that we have been yearning for decades," said Mr Ong.