Thomson-East Coast Line – Future of Urban Mobility

New MRT Rail Line – Thomson-East Coast Line

The Thomson-East Coast Line (TEL) is anticipated to commence full operations in 2025. Following the latest announcement in December 2023, Land Transport Authority (LTA) will transfer Stage 4 stations of this new line to the operator SMRT. This transfer will occur in early 2024 after LTA completes its train testing. Before the official commencement, further familiarization with operating, maintaining, and managing incidents is required at SMRT’s end. With the launch of TEL Stage 4, which includes seven new stations, the Thomson-East Coast Line is nearing completion.

Thomson-East Coast Line - Marine Parade Station Entrance
Thomson-East Coast Line – Marine Parade Station


Singapore 6th MRT Rail Line – Thomson-East Coast Line

The new Thomson-East Coast Line represents Singapore’s 6th MRT rail line, operating entirely underground. Stretching approximately 43km with 32 stations, it ranks among the world’s longest driverless rapid transit lines. Along this new line are a total of 8 interchange stations connecting to the existing rail network. When fully operational in 2025, it is projected to serve 500,000 commuters daily in its initial years. This rail line will be represented by the color brown on the Singapore MRT rail network map.

Featuring new stations from Northern Singapore to the City Centre and the Eastern part of Singapore. The line will link up with Downtown MRT Line (DL) extension at Sungei Bedok station, currently under Stage 5 construction for the TEL Line. Sungei Bedok station will serve as the interchange for both TEL and DL. It will enhance connectivity to and from Changi Airport station in the future.

Thomson-East Coast Line Map
Thomson-East Coast Line Map


Merging of Thomson Line and Eastern Region Line

The inception of this new MRT line dates back to August 2014, when the initially planned Thomson Line and Eastern Region Line merged to form the Thomson-East Coast Line. The Thomson Line (TSL) was initially announced in 2008, while preliminary plans for the Eastern Region Line (ERL) were heard in 2001.

Construction for the Thomson Line commenced in early 2014. SMRT Trains Ltd won the $1.7 billon contract as the operator for the Thomson-East Coast Line in September 2017. They also currently operate the North-South, East-West, Circle Lines, and Bukit Panjang LRT.


Constructing Thomson-East Coast Line in Stages

Thomson-East Coast Line – Stage 1 (TEL 1)

TEL 1 of the Thomson-East Coast Line comprises three stations. Mainly covering the Woodlands Estate. They are the Woodlands North station, Woodlands station, and Woodlands South station. Leveraging the existing Woodlands MRT station on the North-South Line, it will facilitate as an interchange with this TEL line. Enabling commuters to seamlessly switch between these rail routes. Woodlands North station will be situated in the Customs, Immigration, and Quarantine (CIQ) Building, where the future RTS Link is set to be located. The bus route for service number 856 has been adjusted to connect to Woodlands North station. The opening of TEL Stage 1 in January 2020 has enhanced connectivity for students attending Republic Polytechnic.

Thomson-East Coast Line (TEL 1
TEL 1 – Thomson-East Coast Line


Thomson-East Coast Line – Stage 2 (TEL 2)

Thomson-East Coast Line, Stage 2 (TEL 2) will consist of six stations, providing much-needed transportation options for residents in the Thomson Area, which was previously not served by a rail line. The new stations are Springleaf station in the Yishun area, Lentor and Mayflower under Ang Mo Kio Area. The remaining are Bright Hill, Upper Thomson and Caldecott towards the Thomson-Toa Payoh areas. Bright Hill Station will serve as an interchange for the future Cross Island Line, while Caldecott Station will connect to the existing Circle Line.

Lentor station currently resides in a low-density population area, characterized by forests and private landed housing. Government plans aim to introduce more amenities and vibrancy to this quiet part of the Ang Mo Kio Planning Area. Recent years have seen several new launches, with further developments planned for the area. Similarly, the addition of Springleaf station could significantly impact developments and residents in Springleaf.

The completion of Stage 2 faced several delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic and software issues. Originally projected to commence operations in late 2020, it was postponed to the first quarter of 2021 and finally began operations in August 2021. Together with TEL 1, both stages are expected to serve up to 100,000 households.

Some new launch developments that are within close proximity to TEL 2 are:

Thomson-East Coast Line (TEL 2)
TEL 2 – Thomson-East Coast Line


Thomson-East Coast Line – Stage 3 (TEL 3)

TEL 3 will feature most of its 13 stations situated in the prime central region of Singapore. Spanning from Orchard and Great World to the main central business district (CBD) areas of Downtown. These areas already benefit from existing MRT lines such as the North-South, North-East, and Downtown Lines. With the addition of the Thomson-East Coast Line, more interchange points are created. Providing commuters with more direct access and shorter travel times to their destinations. There are a total of four interchange stations: Stevens, Orchard, Outram Park, and Marina Bay Station.

While some of the new stations will attract ridership from existing stations, a few may not experience high levels of ridership initially. However, overall, this new line will contribute to and enhance the connectivity of Singapore’s rail network.

Out of the 13 stations, Marina South and Mount Pleasant stations will only open once the surrounding housing developments are ready. This approach ensures that these stations will not be underutilized when TEL 3 begins operations in November 2022. The remaining stations in TEL 3 have been operational since November 2022.

Some new launch developments within close proximity to TEL 3 are:


Thomson-East Coast Line (TEL 3)
TEL 3 – Thomson-East Coast Line


Thomson-East Coast Line – Stage 4 (TEL 4)

TEL 4 will introduce new stations located in the eastern part of Singapore, stretching from Founder’s Memorial station to Bayshore station, comprising 8 stations. Founder’s Memorial station, added in January 2019, will open concurrently with Founders’ Memorial. A tribute showcasing the contributions of Singapore’s founders from the post-World War II era to the first few decades of independence. Both are slated to open in 2025.

This new Thomson-East Coast line will provide additional transportation options in the eastern region of Singapore, where MRT network coverage for decades, particularly in high-traffic areas like Marine Parade and Siglap. Currently, residents are adequately served by existing bus routes until TEL 4 becomes operational in 2024. The inclusion of Bayshore station will benefit future residents of housing developments planned by the government.

Some new launch developments within close proximity to TEL 4 are:


Thomson-East Coast Line (TEL 4)
TEL 4 – Thomson-East Coast Line


Thomson-East Coast Line – Stage 5 (TEL 5)

This final segment of the Thomson-East Coast Line will link up with the Downtown Line (DL) at Sungei Bedok. This interchange station will enable commuters to transfer to the Downtown Line for access to other parts of Singapore, or they can opt to switch to the existing East-West Line at Expo station. The current East-West Line provides direct service to Changi Airport. TEL 5 is anticipated to be operational by 2025.

Thomson-East Coast Line (TEL 5)
TEL 5 – Thomson-East Coast Line

Thomson-East Coast Line Extension (TELe)

Under the Land Transport Master Plan 2040 (LTMP 2040), travel to the airport will see further enhancements via the Thomson-East Coast Line. The extension of the Thomson-East Coast Line (TELe) at Sungei Bedok Station will directly link to Changi Airport, including its future Terminal 5. Terminal 5 alone is projected to handle a capacity of 50 million passengers annually in its first phase. The current segment from Tanah Merah station on the East-West Line to Changi Airport will be converted to become part of the Thomson-East Coast Line Extension (TELe).

Thomson-East Coast Line Extension(TELe)
Thomson-East Coast Line Extension(TELe)


Johor Bahru-Singapore Rapid Transit System (RTS) Link

In the northern region, the Johor Bahru-Singapore Rapid Transit System (RTS) Link is scheduled to commence operations in December 2026. It will be situated at the same Customs, Immigration, and Quarantine (CIQ) Building as TEL’s Woodlands North Station. Essentially, commuters on the Thomson-East Coast Line will be able to seamlessly transfer from the underground link to the RTS Link, facilitating travel to Malaysia in the near future.


Redefining Urban Travel and Appreciate the Efforts

The new Thomson-East Coast Line will feature additional entrances at stations to enhance commuters’ accessibility. It brings stations closer to residential areas and the new design stations will also offer a superior commuter experience, with at least 2 lifts at each MRT gantry and improved signage illustrations.

Planning and constructing the fully underground Thomson-East Coast Line over decades has been a challenging endeavor, particularly due to the dense urban population and narrow roads. Stations situated near residential areas have compounded construction difficulties, especially given the tight schedule.

As the Thomson-East Coast Line (TEL) commences full operations in 2025, more households will find themselves closer to MRT stations. This will result in increased convenience and expanded transportation options. Developments in the surrounding areas will also be appreciated in value, whether they are HDB flats, private residential, or commercial developments.

Daily commuting lifestyles will undergo adjustments as these rail network lines connect nearly every corner of Singapore. With ongoing plans to enhance Singapore’s transportation networks, accessibility and connectivity will only continue to improve in the future.