Friday, May 22, 2009

Bishan MRT station ready for Circle crowds

It will become an interchange when Circle Line begins ops next week

BISHAN MRT station is geared up for the partial opening of the new Circle Line next Thursday.
The station, among the new line's first five stations to open, will function as an interchange for commuters to transfer between the Circle Line and the existing North-South Line.

Work at Bishan station to prepare it for criss- crossing the Circle Line has taken over five years.
Before the changes, Bishan had a semi-underground train platform without air-conditioning; north- and south-bound commuters shared that platform, like in most MRT stations.

But a shared platform will not be enough for the higher number of commuters who will use the station after the Circle line opens, so the north- and south-bound platforms have been separated.
Last July, a separate south-bound platform opened for use, leaving the existing platform for north-bound commuters - though it needed upgrading works. The new south-bound platform is air-conditioned and has full-height screen doors to seal it off from the tracks.

The platform that will from tomorrow handle commuters headed north to Ang Mo Kio, Yishun and beyond has been made bigger, air-conditioned and given new flooring and full-height screen doors.

Together, the two platforms can hold 2,020 standing passengers, up from 1,250 previously.
The screen doors and air-conditioning systems for the north-bound platform are still undergoing tests before the expected start of operations tomorrow.

Preparation work on the doors, the installation and testing took about a year, said the Land Transport Authority (LTA).

This was because the platform has been in use all this while, and only limited work could be carried out during the day, with the trains running.

Mr Tan Kian Thong, LTA's director for the Circle Line's first five stations, said: 'We managed to do things like the changing of tiles on the floor during the day, but the doors had to be put up section by section after midnight.'

The platform will have two escalators and one staircase to link commuters to the Circle Line platforms.

Commuters who use the Bishan station are looking forward to a spruced-up platform for north- bound trains.

Undergraduate Ho Xue Mei, 22, said: 'It will be more comfortable waiting for a train once the air-conditioning is switched on. It's been quite humid the last few months while they were renovating the platform.'

Besides commuters, businesses in the basement of the Junction 8 shopping mall next to the station will benefit from the opening of the new line.

An exit to the mall's basement from the Circle Line linkway has been built, though it will be shut for the moment because Junction 8 has not yet started work on its side.

Mall developer CapitaLand Retail said it will open the link at 'an opportune time'. It has to consider the new line's ridership and how any renovation will disrupt tenants' businesses.

The Straits Times understands that the link is near the Sakae Sushi and Ajisen Ramen restaurants in the basement.

Sakae Sushi said it is 'in talks with the landlord' but declined to say more.

Mr Henry Tan, general manager of Japan Foods Holding which runs Ajisen Ramen, said he hoped the link will be opened soon.

He said: 'Even if we have to be relocated to another floor because of it, it's okay. A direct link will definitely be good for business for the entire mall.'

Source: Straits Times, 22 May 2009

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