Works for Stage 2 of the TEL are progressing at a slower pace due to constraints on worker availability amid the pandemic.
Construction of Thomson-East Coast MRT Line slowed due to pandemic Works for Stage 2 of the Thomson-East Coast line (TEL) are progressing at a slower pace due to constraints on worker availability. PHOTO: ST FILE

Works for Stage 2 of the Thomson-East Coast Line (TEL) are progressing at a slower pace due to constraints on worker availability amid the impact of COVID-19, said the Land Transport Authority (LTA).

The agency is still assessing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the timeline of the opening of Stage 2 of the TEL as well as other projects to expand the MRT network.

LTA's remarks on the projects were first reported by Chinese newspaper Lianhe Zaobao yesterday. In March, then Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan said Stage 2 of TEL was likely to open after this month, following testing of the six-station stretch from April to July. The stations are Springleaf, Lentor, Mayflower, Bright Hill, Upper Thomson and Caldecott.

Yesterday, a spokesman for LTA said construction works were allowed to resume from 2 June 2020, provided contractors complied with the COVID-Safe Restart Criteria.

These included the setting up of temporary workers' quarters and carrying out periodic swab tests in addition to regular temperature screening. Workers were also required to complete the COVID-Safe Training for Workers module before starting work.

Projects that met the criteria and with a sufficient number of workers had resumed work, said the spokesman. "Examples include the construction of East Coast Integrated Depot, Xilin and Sungei Bedok stations along Downtown Line 3 extension, Prince Edward station along Circle Line 6 extension and the upgrading of Tanah Merah station along East-West Line," the spokesman added.

Meanwhile, testing of the systems and trains along Stage 2 of TEL has been ongoing and installation of some station equipment has resumed, but works are progressing at a slower pace due to constraints on worker availability, said the spokesman.

The spokesman said that more than 90% of overall works for TEL2 stations and more than 80% of train testing for the new stations have been completed. "We are still assessing the impact of COVID-19 on the timeline of these projects, including the opening timeline for TEL2. Project timelines may be adjusted to ensure that works can continue safely in compliance with public health measures," said the spokesman.

"However, the intent to significantly expand our MRT network remains unchanged. We will keep the public informed of any changes to project timelines."

The TEL is expected to be completed by 2024, after opening in five stages from this year to 2024. In January, three stations along the line - Woodlands North, Woodlands and Woodlands South stations - began operating. The 43km line will be Singapore's sixth and longest MRT line, and will add 32 new stations to the existing rail network, with eight interchange stations in total.

When fully operational, the TEL is expected to initially serve around 500,000 commuters daily, eventually rising to about 1 million.