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Thu 18 Jul 2013

Nature Society (Singapore) Cross Island Line: Discussion and Position Paper

Category : news

18th July 2013 - since the "Chained To Our Roots" event on 22-23 Jun 2013, a petition has been circulating which you can read and sign if it reflects your views, at tinyurl.com/lta-crl.

Today, we applaud the release of this position paper by Nature Society (Singapore):

Nature Society (Singapore) releases a discussion and position paper on the Cross Island Line - link

In January 2013, the Ministry of Transport announced plans for an MRT line called the Cross Island Line (CRL) that will be completed around 2030. Running about 50 km from Changi to the Jurong Industrial Estate, the Cross Island Line will be Singapore’s longest train line.

As unveiled, the CRL passes through the southern section of the Central Catchment Nature Reserve (CCNR), near MacRitchie Reservoir, as it goes from Sin Ming to Bukit Timah.

The Nature Society (Singapore) (NSS) believes that engineering investigation and construction works for the Cross Island Line will severely degrade ancient, species-rich and highly complex ecosystems.

The Nature Society recommends that the design alignment be adjusted to avoid crossing the Reserve.

Of particular concern is the fate of primary forest remnants that the Cross Island Line will traverse if built as presented. Less than 0.2% remains of the lowland rainforest that originally covered most of Singapore. The remnants are too scarce and take too long to regenerate to risk damaging them.

In addition, the stream systems through which the Cross Island Line passes are especially vulnerable. Though these habitats are currently protected as part of a Nature Reserve, they are nonetheless now threatened unless the Cross Island Line is rerouted.

The Nature Society (Singapore)’s Discussion and Position Paper on the Cross Island Line is available from today for downloading from the Society’s website (nss.org.sg).

Questions on the NSS Discussion and Position Paper can be directed to crl@nss.org.sg or 6741-2036.

The NSS spokesperson for its position on the proposed Cross Island Line is Mr Tony O’Dempsey.

Download the full position paper from the NSS webpage.

NSS Cross Island Line

Posted at 12:41PM UTC by N. Sivasothi | permalink | email |

Thu 20 Jun 2013

Chained to Our Roots petition & picnic: "Reroute the Cross Island Line to protect our oldest forests" - Sat 22 Jun 2013: 3.00pm @ Hong Lim Park

Category : events

"Chained to Our Roots" by Teresa Teo Guttensohn, is an art protest event with mass chaining to tree web chain to present an appeal LTA to re-route the proposed Cross Island MRT Line (CRL) which would otherwise damage some of our oldest forests in Singapore. The picnic and event will take place on Sat 22 Jun 2013: 3.00pm @ Hong Lim Park and is open to all Singaporeans and PRs only.

In January this year, LTA announced proposed new MRT lines to be built by 2030. To our considerable shock, scrutiny of the proposed 50km Cross Island Line (CRL) revealed it would cut through the Central Catchment Nature Reserve. No mention was provided of the potential problems of sedimentation, hydrological variation, edge effect and fragmentation.

The announcement was a complete surprise to all of us, and gave no indication to Singaporeans of the value of the protected nature reserve it was cutting through. It would seem we need to look no further than our nature reserves, to contend with forest loss.

Since then, LTA has initiated a conversation with naturalists in Singapore. But while the CRL remains a proposal to cut through the central catchment, individuals and groups realise realise they have to stand up to address this proposal to promote the realisation of the cost of this action.

Teresa Teo Guttensohn is an eco-artist from Singapore who has decided a letter will be an inadequate gesture to communicate the seriousness of this appeal. So she has organised an eco-picnic to be held at Hong Lim Park this Saturday 22 June 2013. Everyone is invited to attend and picnic with like-minded friends, and witness the eco-art performance at 3.30pm.

Teresa wil be tied to a tree for 24 hours.

Note that only Singapore Citizens and Singapore Permanent Residents are allowed to attend the event.

Teresa Teo Guttensohn is also organising a petition to support her statement to LTA, which you can sign at the event:

"If you can't join us on Saturday, and would like to act for our rainforest, please read the link below and sign our online petition to LTA. Together, we can make a difference! Please act now."

Posted at 10:56PM UTC by N. Sivasothi | permalink | email |

Thu 09 May 2013

Soil investigation works for the Cross Island Line (Tampines-Jurong MRT) will cause irreparable damage, fragmentation and wildlife loss in our Central Catchment Nature Reserve

Category : news

"Concerns on Tampines-Jurong MRT route through Central Catchment Nature Reserve" by Tony O'Dempsey, 08 May 2013

"We note the article '50 km Tampines-Jurong MRT route runs deeper underground: LTA" by Jermyn Chow, The Straits Times, 6th May 2013 (see below).

We are gravely concerned that the soil investigation planned for this year will entail the drilling of bore holes every 20 metres along the proposed alignment of the Cross Island MRT through the Central Catchment Nature Reserve.

MRT Survey Map by Tony O'Dempsey
MRT Survey Map by Tony O'Dempsey, click for image for larger map

Our concern is that the alignment not only passes through a section of the oldest regrowth forest in Singapore, it also passes through sections of primeval forest as well as a number of rainforest streams.

The access roads required for placement of boring machines as well as their operation at 15-20m intervals will cause irreparable damage to the habitat. In particular the native fauna that depend on the swampy stream habitat in the two valleys affected will most likely be permanently lost.

Even though the MRT line is planned to transit the Nature Reserve underground, the soil investigation works will effectively disconnect the primary forest habitat of MacRitchie area from those of the rest of the Central Catchment Nature Reserve.

We urge the LTA to redesign the cross island MRT alignment such that it does not intersect the Central Nature reserve. The Map below illustrates the route of the Tampines-Jurong line across the Central Nature reserve as well as the proposed bore hole interval."

Relevant links

  • MND's "Land Use Beyond 2030" map of Singapore. Habitatnews, 06 Feb 2013
  • MRT through the Nature Reserve: "the line goes 'through' primary forest and good secondary forest." Habitatnews, 04 Feb 2013


"Studies for Cross Island Line to start," by Jermyn Chow. The Straits Times, 06 May 2013. 50km Tampines-Jurong MRT route runs deeper underground: LTA

While the Cross Island Line is expected to be ready only in 2030, studies will start at the end of this year to plan for Singapore's most ambitious MRT project yet.

The 50km line runs from Tampines to Jurong, passing through densely built-up areas such as Sin Ming, Hougang, Clementi, and beneath the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve and Central Catchment Area.

The LTA is planning well ahead of time because contractors will need to dig deeper underground in land-scarce Singapore for new rail projects.

The pace of construction will also depend on the ground's soil profile, which experts say changes every 2 to 3 metres.

ST 06 May 2013 - What it takes to build and MRT line

This makes excavation works all the more challenging as the tunnel-boring machines move through different types of rock and soil, said Ms Choo Chai Foong, LTA's deputy director for design development (rail).

Ms Choo, who has been with the LTA for 16 years, said: "As stations get deeper, we must be more careful as there will be more risks and engineering methods need to be adjusted."

The LTA will not want a repeat of the tragedy in April 2004, when a deep excavation at a Circle Line worksite collapsed, killing four workers and causing a section of Nicoll Highway to cave in.

That delayed the progress of the Circle Line by around two years and consequently, the rollout of lines that were to come after it.

But Singapore is not the only city to experience delays in rail projects.

Paris' plan to double its network by building some 200km of new lines took years to be finalised and approved.

New York City's Second Avenue Subway project had been planned since 1929, but only got under way in 2007.

jermync@sph.com.sg

Posted at 5:41AM UTC by N. Sivasothi | permalink | email |

Mon 04 Feb 2013

MRT through the Nature Reserve: "the line goes 'through' primary forest and good secondary forest."

Category : news

Two weeks ago, LTA announced that they would build “two new rail lines and three new extensions by 2030″. Of the proposed new lines, the 50km Cross Island Line (CRL) was the cause of considerable concern, as it would cut through the Central Catchment Nature Reserve and I posted a couple of maps for scrutiny [see maps in link].

I sent local naturalist and GIS-geek Tony O'Dempsey the Land Transport Authority's map for a second opinion about the placement of the line. I was interested to see the type of forest we knew to be present which the line would cut through.

Tony replied shortly after, saying, "I georeferenced that LTA map and co-registered it with this satellite image. The line goes 'through' primary forest and good secondary forest."

Tunnelling or overhead, construction is not a neat business. And if it will occur in our nature reserves, the integrity of an already impacted forest will be further challenged.

Posted at 11:15AM UTC by N. Sivasothi | permalink | email |

Tue 22 Jan 2013

LTA's proposed Cross Island Line (CRL) cuts through the Central Catchment Forest Reserve

Category : news

Last Thursday, LTA unveiled “Two new rail lines and three new extensions by 2030″. This significant announcement doubles the rail network from 178km to 360 km by 2030, putting some 80% of households within a 10-minute walk of a rail station.

LTA: Rail Network Expansions, announced 17 Jan 2013
Map of Rail Network Expansions, announced 17 Jan 2013

Of these proposed new lines, the 50km Cross Island Line (CRL) was the biggest surprise, and also of greatest concern. The CRL begins in Changi and moves westwards through Loyang, Pasir Ris, Hougang, Ang Mo Kio, Sin Ming and through the Central Catchment Nature Reserve to Bukit Timah, Clementi, West Coast and Jurong Industrial Estate.

LTA Cross Island Line
Map of Cross Island Line released by LTA, 17 Jan 2013

Singapore still has a mosaic of small secondary forest patches. The largest of these are hemmed in to five major areas - the Western Catchment (military use), Bukit Timah Nature Reserve (BTNR), Central Catchment Nature Reserve (CCNR) and the islands of Pulau Ubin and Pulau Tekong (military use). Of these, the oldest patches and some of the least impacted forest areas are found in BTNR and CCNR, the green heart of Singapore.

Map of Singapore showing locations of major forest fragments (Map prep by Marcus Chua)
Map of Singapore showing locations of major forest fragments (map by Marcus Chua)

The Central Catchment Nature Reserve is a rectangular area in the centre of Singapore island bound by four roads: Mandai Road in the north Upper Thomson Road in the east, Lornie Road in the south and Bukit Timah Expressway (BKE) in the west. This reserve encloses four large reservoirs - MacRitchie Reservoir in the south, Upper Peirce Reservoir and Lower Peirce Reservoir in the central west and east respectively and Upper Seletar Reservoir in the north.

NParks - BTNR and CCNR
Map of BTNR and CCNR from National Parks Board webpage

Adjacent to CCNR in the south west is the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve. Isolated from the larger CCNR since 1986 by the BKE, the construction of an EcoLink was announced in 2009 to link BTNR with CCNR once again later this year.

Shortly after the LTA announcement about the new rail lines last week, singeo provided a Google Earth overlay of the LTA map which I downloaded and examined.

CRL, BTNR and CCNR
The CRL (in red) through southern CCNR

Route of LTAs proposed Cross Island Line (CRL) through the Central Catchment Nature Reserve
Route of LTA's proposed Cross Island Line (CRL) through the
Central Catchment Nature Reserve; click image for larger view.
Google Earth overlay by singeo and Google Earth placemarkers by chionh

This line will cause concern amongst local naturalists, who will have to examine the issue and ask questions.

Bukit Timah Nature Reserve and the Central Catchment Nature Reserve are precious spaces. These are being carefully managed to cope with preservation of biodiversity for future generations, and we are also the planet's custodian for rare endemic species found nowhere else in the world.

Understandably, the forest is under pressure for recreational use. As in many other cities, Singaporeans seek relief from the confines of our urban space in the forest. Over the years the mountain bike community has grown, as have the number of trail runners and hikers. Outdoor education of our students is increasingly understood to be important.

Just last week, DBS Vickers suggested the expected Population White Paper to be unveiled by government will raise the population target of Singapore to 7 million [link]

This will bring further pressure to our heavily used forests. As an open ecosystem, man's activities in one area will affect other parts, often in ways we do not entirely understand.

Thus when I examined the map, some immediate, obvious questions came to mind. If the CRL is an underground line, could we mitigate impact during and after construction? The questions are,

  • What sort of forest is in the area? Is it former plantations, old secondary or primary forests? What sort of animal life use these areas?
  • Which specific parts would have to be cleared for construction and for maintenance?
  • What impact does the construction of an underground MRT line have above ground?
  • How will underground drilling affect the hydrology of the surrounding area?
  • How will underground aquifers be affected and will headwaters of our delicate freshwater stream ecosystems be affected?
  • Will the effects underground tunnelling be expressed downstream in any way?
  • After construction, what impact would be forest be subjected to for tunnel maintenance?
  • What have we learnt about impact to geography, hydrology and geology from the construction of other MRT lines?

A close examination of the issues would be helpful and there is much to ask and understand. This sounds like a proposal for an honours thesis!

Posted at 5:24AM UTC by N. Sivasothi | permalink | email |

Tue 13 Mar 2007

Category : events

"Chained to Our Roots" by Teresa Teo Guttensohn, is an art protest event with mass chaining to tree web chain to present an appeal LTA to re-route the proposed Cross Island MRT Line (CRL) which would otherwise damage some of our oldest forests in Singapore. The picnic and event will take place on Sat 22 Jun 2013: 3.00pm @ Hong Lim Park and is open to all Singaporeans and PRs only.

In January this year, LTA announced proposed new MRT lines to be built by 2030. To our considerable shock, scrutiny of the proposed 50km Cross Island Line (CRL) revealed it would cut through the Central Catchment Nature Reserve. No mention was provided of the potential problems of sedimentation, hydrological variation, edge effect and fragmentation.

The announcement was a complete surprise to all of us, and gave no indication to Singaporeans of the value of the protected nature reserve it was cutting through. It would seem we need to look no further than our nature reserves, to contend with forest loss.

Since then, LTA has initiated a conversation with naturalists in Singapore. But while the CRL remains a proposal to cut through the central catchment, individuals and groups realise realise they have to stand up to address this proposal to promote the realisation of the cost of this action.

Teresa Teo Guttensohn is an eco-artist from Singapore who has decided a letter will be an inadequate gesture to communicate the seriousness of this appeal. So she has organised an eco-picnic to be held at Hong Lim Park this Saturday 22 June 2013. Everyone is invited to attend and picnic with like-minded friends, and witness the eco-art performance at 3.30pm.

Teresa wil be tied to a tree for 24 hours.

Note that only Singapore Citizens and Singapore Permanent Residents are allowed to attend the event.

Teresa Teo Guttensohn is also organising a petition to support her statement to LTA, which you can sign at the event:

"If you can't join us on Saturday, and would like to act for our rainforest, please read the link below and sign our online petition to LTA. Together, we can make a difference! Please act now."

Posted at 10:57AM UTC by N. Sivasothi | permalink | email | Raffles Museum news