Three days after wet platforms at several stations dampened a public preview, the Tuas West Extension (TWE) to the East-West Line (EWL) began its first weekday of train services on Monday (June 19) without hiccups.
Passenger service kicked off on Sunday on the 7.5km extension beyond Joo Koon, previously the final station on the EWL, widening the line by four stops: Gul Circle, Tuas Crescent, Tuas West Road and Tuas Link.
When TODAY visited the Gul Circle station about 7.45am, trains were running relatively empty, with seats still available in most cabins.
Commuters who spoke to TODAY said the new extension afforded them time savings.
Previously, construction maintenance worker Veerayan Muruganandam, 29, travelled from Chua Chu Kang to Joo Koon MRT station, where he hopped on a bus to his Tuas Avenue 1 workplace. His journey took two hours.
With the new extension, his journey has been trimmed by 45 minutes. He now commutes from Chua Chu Kang to Tuas Link station, where it is a 15-minute bus ride to his workplace. "It's better because (I can) directly come here," said Mr Veerayan, adding that he can avoid the congestion on the roads.
But for a commuter, who gave his name only as Mr Ong, the journey took about the same length of time as before. Switching to the EWL at Outram Park, the facility executive took a train on Monday from Hougang to Gul Circle, which is within walking distance of his logistics firm.
The 55-year-old previously travelled from Hougang to Boon Lay, where he took a bus to his office. Both routes take him about 1.5 hours, he said.
He said the switchover to the new signalling system that the TWE runs on at Pioneer MRT station added to his travel time. "(It's) inconvenient ... (and) not seamless," Mr Ong added.
More than an hour into the TWE Open House last Friday, which included free train rides along all four stations, rainwater was seen coming into the Tuas Crescent station from above and the sides of the platform. The east-bound platform at the Gul Circle stop was also completely wet.
The Land Transport Authority had told TODAY that the stations are designed to allow natural light to enter from the roof and the side louvres, to give them “an airy and bright feel”.
But rainwater can enter through the side louvres during downpours, the statutory board acknowledged, saying it will be putting in place “measures to prevent this”.
Built to satiate growing travel demand to and from Tuas, the TWE is expected to serve 100,000 commuters daily. Many will also have shorter travel times. For instance, those going from Woodlands to Tuas West will have their journeys trimmed to less than an hour, from 1.5 hours previously.
The TWE was originally set to open by the end of last year, but its launch was delayed because the new signalling system it operates on — the same one being tested on the North-South Line — had to undergo more tests to ensure its reliability.
The project is the country’s first integrated rail-and-road viaduct that stands at 23 metres in height — nearly twice that of an average MRT viaduct. At 33 metres aboveground, Gul Circle, which is roughly the height of a 10-storey Housing and Development Board block, is also the highest elevated station in the MRT network.