North East Line
The North East Line: Ahead of its time
Built using the latest technology and engineering techniques of its time, NEL heralded an era of automated and driverless mass rapid transit systems, an enhanced commuter experience and the beginning of our multi-modal, integrated public transport model.
Connecting residential areas in the north-east to Singapore’s heritage areas and the city fringe, its development was aimed at serving growing neighbourhoods in these regions.
The 20km line has 16 stations, and connects to six interchanges.
Train and Station Features
Length of rail
Number of stations
Number of interchanges
NEL is the world’s first fully automated underground driverless heavy rail rapid transit line.
It is also the first MRT line to take accessibility into account, with the most number of lifts at the time and the first tactile guidance system.
Design and Architecture
Besides automation, NEL was also the first to incorporate art into its stations. Stations were also designed to allow for future expansions to cater to the growing population.
When designing stations, the placement of entrances is carefully deliberated so that they serve the community and integrate well with the existing community fabric. Chinatown is a conservation district with limited space between shophouses. The Pagoda Street entrance and roof canopy were carefully inserted between two rows of shophouses. The glass and steel framing are light and non-intrusive so that commuters can appreciate the intricacies of the conserved façade and five-foot ways.
As an Integrated Transport Hub (ITH), Serangoon MRT station exemplifies the idea of providing for integration with future development. The station offers seamless, air-conditioned connections to a bus interchange and commercial developments. This maximises land use, speeds up transit connections and makes life more convenient. Beyond taking the train to or from work, commuters can grab a meal, run errands, pick up groceries and spend quality time with their loved ones.
Sengkang MRT station is an ITH with an MRT, LRT, bus interchange, commercial and residential developments. When the station opened in 2003, the surrounding developments were not built yet. The space planning of the station took future connections into consideration and adopted a simple layout to allow clear and easy wayfinding to help commuters navigate to the various modes of transport. The atrium-like open layout and glass enclosure in the station design allow visual connections across levels and spaces, making wayfinding in and out of the station easier.