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10 Reasons the TEL is an Engine-ious Development

Posted on | 25 Nov 2022

Hero Image of commuters on TEL train

Standing at 43km long and with 32 stations, the Thomson-East Coast Line (TEL) may be the newcomer of Singapore’s rail lines, but it’s definitely raising the bar for the future!

When completed, TEL is expected to serve around one million commuters in years to come and also promises faster access to the city—a particular perk for those living in the east and along the North-South Corridor of Singapore. Travelling from Woodlands to Orchard, for instance, which now takes 50 minutes by bus and MRT, will be cut to just 35 minutes on one direct line.

But even if you don’t live in these areas, there are plenty of reasons to celebrate TEL and the newly-opened Phase 3 (TEL3)—in fact, we’ll give you 10.

#1 More options, less crowds

TEL is the first MRT rail line spanning eight interchanges that connect to all major lines: the East-West Line (EWL), North-South Line (NSL), North East Line (NEL), Circle Line (CCL) and Downtown Line (DTL).

Image of walkways and escalator of Outram Park station

With TEL3, Outram Park station will connect commuters with EWL, NEL and TEL, and has been upgraded to include wider travelators and walkways to ease the human traffic flow! Stevens station integrates with DTL, while those working in the CBD can also enjoy greater accessibility from Marina Bay station to intersect with CCL, NSL and TEL.

What this means is that it can relieve the rush hour crowds on other lines, giving you more options for enhanced connectivity and more comfort on your daily commute.

#2 Size matters
Pictorial graphic with football field and elephant

Compared to the 70m-long Circle Line (CCL) and Downtown Line (DTL) trains, TEL trains are around 93m long—practically the length of a football field. Each train also weighs 150 tonnes, which is as much as 32 adult elephants!

That equates to being able to carry more people and offer more space. Which coupled with how it has five–instead of four doors–on each side for boarding and alighting, makes it a more comfortable ride than what you’ve had before!

#3 You’ll always stay on track
Image of LCD DRMD

Do you sometimes get so engrossed playing with your phone or listening to music that you forget which station you’re at… and even miss your stop?

This can be avoided with TEL’s new LCD Dynamic Route Map Display (DRMD). By showing you key information like the station map, arrival time and which side the train doors will open on, all you need to do is look up and you’re in the know.

#4 Walking home is a breeze

TEL stations are designed with more entrances, and longer pedestrian underpasses. Expect shelter from the sun and rain, and shorter walking times with new travel access options— giving you even more reason to travel on foot and clock in your daily steps.

#5 The first underground bicycle parking facilities
Image of cycling path outside TEL Marina Bay

Cyclists rejoice! Four stations along TEL—Marine Parade, Marine Terrace, Bayshore and Sungei Bedok—will be fitted with underground bicycle parking facilities. No worries about your bike getting soaked in the rain now. Here’s to greater public transport options, no matter rain or shine!

#6 It supports inclusivity
Image of Family Washroom at TEL

Just like the other MRT lines in Singapore, TEL comes with priority boarding areas and barrier-free routes. And as a plus, every single station has family-friendly toilets with features like child-sized wash basins and baby care rooms, making it easier for you to bring your kids on public transport.

Also, did you know? There are special “Heart Zones” located at Outram Park station which allow wheelchair patients to visit the hospital(s) in the vicinity much more easily!

#7 Each station has a unique character

Our TEL stations are distinctive, each in its own right. They are also home to some pieces of LTA’s Art in Transit (AIT) programme, Singapore’s largest public art showcase that integrates work from the country’s leading local artists.

Simply look up the next time you’re entering one of our MRT stations and you’ll be sure to spot something special around the platform!

TEL Stations

Image of Gardens by the Bay station interior

Celebrate Singapore’s nature and biodiversity at Gardens by the Bay and Napier stations, which feature green walls showcasing hundreds of indoor plants! Check out the natural lighting and ten umbrella-like columns at Gardens by the Bay that support the station’s structure. Commuters and tourists alike can also enjoy natural ventilation that allows the sea breeze to flow through.

With Napier station located close to Singapore Botanic Gardens (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), commuters can find inspiration on all things plants, culture and history here. Feast your eyes on the tapestry of beautiful century-old paintings that serve botanic information, located on the interior walls of the station.

What makes Napier really special too? It’s the one and only station on TEL that had its architecture, structure and road alignment fully designed by LTA! This is unlike other locations that include working with external consultants for the designing of our stations.

Image of Art in Transit artwork located at Stevens station

Stevens features solar panels that power certain levels of the station. You can check out the Art in Transit piece with bookshelves that represent the imaginative subjects students wish were taught at school, printed on natural stones. Students submitted funny and quirky names of the books, which you can read all about when you next drop by!

Image of Art in Transit artwork at Shenton Way station

Shenton Way station has the longest escalator on TEL. Take a gander at the Art in Transit pieces in this station, where you’ll see money notes that symbolise the financial district to represent the old Singapore currencies and city’s business and finance centre.

Image of interior of Orchard station

At Orchard station, you’ll also find another of the largest TEL3 stations that offers a gobsmacking 13 exits between the TEL and NSL. Talk about the ultimate access to a shopping belt paradise!

Image of Art in Transit artwork at Great World station

Take a stroll down memory lane at Great World station with nostalgic photographs based on old advertisements, re-enacted with present day participants who are choral singers, sports wrestlers, an opera performer and a film curator.

So keep your eyes peeled for the artworks the next time you’re at this station, and travel back to the wild and exciting time of the old Great World Amusement Park, bringing a part of Singapore’s history alive!

Other stations on TEL

Lentor station incorporates organic shapes, bamboo tree clusters and earthy tones reminiscent of the natural tropical settings of the area.

Woodlands South station, true to its position as a gateway station to Singapore in the north, has on the other hand adopted a red and white colour scheme inspired by our national flag.

The next time you’re in the area, look out for Song-Ming Ang’s 22 bird sculptures at Mayflower station’s seven entrances—a display inspired by the thriving songbird watching community in the neighbourhood. And if you’re passing Springleaf station, pause to revel in the beauty of Koh Hong Teng’s banyan tree, juxtaposed with buildings and artefacts around the estate!

#8 Furthers Singapore’s sustainability mission

Upper Thomson station in particular, stands out for being a recipient of BCA’s Green Mark Platinum accolade. An underground station would be reliant on air-conditioning, but Upper Thomson station has ameliorated this by cutting its carbon footprint in other areas with its effective use of energy-saving technology like motion-sensor LED lighting systems and automatic dual-speed escalators and more.

Click here to find out what makes our MRT stations green!

#9 Saves land for our land-scarce nation

TEL will in the future be part of a four-in-one train and bus depot. This comprises three train depots (including the Downtown Line and East-West Line) and one bus depot, with the capacity to house 220 trains and 760 buses in multi-storey complexes and saving over 60 football fields worth of land!

It’s also the first of its kind, which leads us to the next point.

#10 Full of firsts

Last but not least, TEL is testament to the ingenuity and boldness of our engineers. It is no mean feat to ensure safety while developing our complex rail system, and they’ve courageously pioneered new methods to overcome the obstacles in their way.

3 ways our engineers created light at the end of the tunnel!

1. Locking out the doubt
How did engineers connect the busy Orchard Boulevard to the TEL and NSL station platforms with minimal interference? By using a retractable, micro-tunnel boring machine to install interlocking pipes and perform 24/7 monitoring for movement at Orchard station.

2. (Gently) shaking things up
It’s tough to analyse soil conditions around build-up areas without digging. So the team chose “non-invasive” methods such as employing ground vibrations and electric currents to establish the resistance of the soil. We’d also had to build the Orchard Boulevard station around the two rain trees which are known as Heritage Trees!

Image of Heritage Trees at Orchard Boulevard station

3. Freezing out the problem
When the high permeability of soil around Marina Bay station raised concerns of water seepage during construction, engineers pioneered a ground-freezing process to create ice walls that can stabilise the ground before railway tunnel excavation works begin.

Be sure to check out the 11 new stations on TEL3 and download our TEL3 digital brochure (PDF, 10.6MB) for a variety of things to do around the area!

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