In this month's analysis advice, we take a look at how new MRT lines such as the Cross Island Line will not suffice for our transportation needs in the future
April 2014 Monthly Analysis: MRT will not meet future transportation needs PHOTO: sgCarMart.com

In recent weeks, there were talks of a new MRT line - the Cross Island Line (CRL) - which will run from the Western Jurong Industrial Estate to Eastern Changi. Spanning across the island, the new line will cover a distance of 50km and serve up to 34 stations.

Although it seems like a comprehensive plan to enhance the existing rail network, it may not suffice in meeting our nation's transportation needs in the future.

The CRL is slated to open by 2030, which is a good 15 years away. A quick look at the Population White Paper revealed that if all goes according to plan, our nation will have 6.5 to 6.9 million people by then.

This means that the population is expected to grow by at least 1.1 million (from the current 5.4 million) in the next 15 years.

With the existing transport system struggling to meet demands, it will be hard to foresee that a single pan island rail will keep up with the nation's transportation needs.

Moreover, reliability of our current rail network has been falling. There has been a series of service disruptions, with no less than five cases in December 2013 and January 2014 alone. Rail operator SMRT has also expected disruptions to continue for at least two more years, until the overhaul of the signalling systems on the age-old North-South and East-West lines are completed.

That said, even the newly opened Downtown Line has experienced service hiccups.

In the case of the CRL where an express service has been proposed to run parallel to the normal service, the construction of the line will be far more complex than the current network. This will, undoubtedly, require more attention in areas of upkeep and maintenance.  

To put it quite blatantly, if rail operators are finding it hard to keep up with maintenance works at current times, it will be more difficult for them to ensure that the CRL will run fault-free when it's up and running.