Crowds show up to ride third stage of Thomson-East Coast Line on opening day

Shortened travelling time equals more free time.

Ruth Chai | November 14, 2022, 06:23 PM

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The third stage of the Thomson-East Coast Line (TEL) opened for passenger service on Sunday, Nov. 13, connecting Woodlands North to the city centre and Gardens by the Bay.

The opening attracted throngs of commuters to try out the new line for the first time.

Two days earlier on Friday, some 500,000 commuters were given a preview of the line with free rides along 11 new stations.

The new stations include Stevens, Napier, Orchard Boulevard, Orchard, Great World, Havelock, Outram Park, Maxwell, Shenton Way, Marina Bay and Gardens by the Bay.

Several of the stations on the TEL connects to other MRT lines.

Stevens station connects to the Downtown Line, Orchard station to the North-South Line, Outram Park to the East-West and North-East lines, and Marina Bay to the Circle and North-South lines.

A total of 10 more stations, comprising stage four and five of TEL going from the Founders’ Memorial in Marina East to Sungei Bedok, are expected to open in two stages around 2024 and 2025.

Founder’s Memorial station will open in tandem with the actual memorial in 2027.

When the TEL is fully completed, more than 240,000 households will be within a 10-minute walk from a TEL station.

Photos via Mothership

Photo via LTA

More time for family

Two commuters who took a ride on TEL, Admiralty residents Sok Ee and Chunhui, said the new line reduces travel time to work.

Chunhui's office is at Outram Park, and his journey to work consists of taking a bus from Admiralty to Woodlands, before taking the TEL directly to Outram Park.

"Hopefully it's faster," he said, while trying out the new commute route.

Chunhui's wife, Sok Ee, works at Orchard, said she also hopes that travel time to work is greatly reduced by the TEL.

In addition, she is enthusiastic for the increased accessibility to recreational hubs.

"Most places require you to change lines at Jurong East, but this line connects to many places I want to go," Sok Ee said.

The couple also agreed that the line's connection to Gardens by the Bay is a great benefit for those who have children.

The need to change lines can be quite tiring for children, who are made to walk between them.

Photo of TEL's new interface via Mothership

For Woodlands residents Celine Loh and her husband, the TEL connects them to places that they grew up visiting, such as Great World City.

Both look forward to exploring new places around the city.

For Celine, working at the Central Business District (CBD) encourages her to explore around Shenton Way station.

Her husband said he believes that the line will create more opportunities for work-life balance, as reduced travel time to work translates to more time spent with family.

With increased connectivity to recreational hubs, such as Orchard and Gardens by the Bay, families can go out to bond more.

TEL's fifth anniversary

Nov. 13 also marked the TEL's fifth anniversary.

It has been 35 years since the first MRT line, the North-South line, opened for operations on Nov. 7, 1987.

To commemorate the opening, Health Minister and Sembawang GRC MP Ong Ye Kung and two of his fellow MPs from the GRC, Vikram Nair and Poh Li San, joined 100 residents on a tour of the TEL between Woodlands South and Maxwell stations.

Organised by grassroots leaders from Sembawang GRC, the half-day excursion included a historical visit to URA Centre.

The trip began with a small celebration and cake-cutting.

Ong applauded the efforts of the Land Transport Authority, SMRT Corporation and Ministry of Transport in the line's construction.

Photo via Mothership

During the train ride from Woodlands South to Maxwell, Ong chatted with the residents and various passengers on board.

Photo via Mothership

The MPs alighted at Maxwell station and took photos with those who work behind-the-scenes.

Photo via Mothership

Photo via Mothership

Top Photo via Mothership