Speech by Minister Desmond Lee at the Opening of Rail Corridor (North)
Feb 10, 2023
Good morning everyone. I am very glad to join you here today at the Rail Corridor.
When this former railway land was returned to Singapore in 2011, we wanted this valuable stretch of land to become a meaningful space for people of all ages from all walks of life, a place that is accessible to all. We conducted extensive consultations with the public, and worked together to envision a Rail Corridor that would be:
A continuous green artery from North to South, which would connect communities, be inclusive and accessible to all, and bring people closer to nature – a green Corridor;
A space that commemorates its heritage, by retaining and recalling key railway elements along the Corridor;
A landmark which spurs the development of adjacent land to meet Singaporeans’ needs for homes, jobs, and amenities.
The Rail Corridor is dear to many people’s hearts. Many of you would have explored parts of the Rail Corridor, especially with the reopening of the central and southern sections of the Rail Corridor in 2021, and the opening of the Bukit Timah Railway Station community node last year.
Today, with the opening of Rail Corridor (North), we celebrate another milestone that extends the Rail Corridor experience, bringing Singaporeans closer together, and to nature, recreation and heritage.
Highlights of Rail Corridor (North)
You can now enjoy more than 21 kilometres of continuous connectivity, from Kranji MRT station in the north all the way down to Spooner Road in the south, up from the current 13 kilometres.
The Kranji node opposite Kranji MRT station becomes our northern gateway into the Rail Corridor.
Visitors can easily enter Rail Corridor (North) via an access path near the overhead bridge at the station, as well as experience a rustic nature trail leading them to a new 2,000 sqm events field for recreational events and activities.
Earlier, we have also realigned a stretch of the Rail Corridor to run alongside Pang Sua Canal and Woodlands Road, and to connect to Kranji MRT station.
This would enable better public accessibility, and
Allow us to integrate parts of the original railway land parcels with adjacent sites.
Towards the southern end, some may remember the old girder bridge over Hillview Road, which served the former railway line before it was dismantled in 2011. A few of you may have even travelled across it.
We have sensitively constructed a new steel bridge across Hillview Road, to re-establish seamless pedestrian connectivity along the Rail Corridor.
It incorporates design elements recalling our railway heritage, such as railway tracks that are embedded into the bridge flooring to reflect its original function as a railway crossing.
It also takes visitors to a lookout deck near the Upper Bukit Timah Road truss bridge, which offers scenic views of Bukit Timah Nature Reserve and Dairy Farm Nature Park.
Enhanced Accessibility to the Rail Corridor
We have introduced 12 new access paths along Rail Corridor (North), which means that Singaporeans now have access to over 30 paths to the Rail Corridor, making it even more connected and accessible for the public to enjoy.
Of these new paths, 9 of them are made barrier-free for all visitors;
Three of these paths are located at Hume Avenue and Hillview Road, to enable residents in the Hillview area to have direct and convenient access to the Rail Corridor and Hillview MRT station.
We have also extended the pedestrian overhead bridge leading to the Rail Mall, providing nearby residents with a more direct entryway to amenities at the Rail Mall.
In addition, between Kranji and Hillview MRT stations, we have completed close to 6 kilometres of trail enhancements for visitors. These include employing quarry dust and a grass and gravel finish which makes the trail safe for visitors to walk, and reduces interruption to the habitat of the diverse wildlife close by.
We will also be interplanting the enhanced trail with secondary forest species, shrub and understory plants, so as to retain the Rail Corridor’s rustic and natural charm.
In fact, to-date, across the Rail Corridor including this northern section where we are today, more than 52,000 native trees and shrubs have been planted, to aid in enhancing the ecological connectivity between natural habitats.
Sustained Community Engagement
I am deeply encouraged by how involved our community has been, and continues to be, on Rail Corridor efforts.
Since 2011, the Friends of Rail Corridor, formerly known as the Rail Corridor Partnership, has been working closely with agencies to realise people’s hopes and aspirations for the Corridor.
They have been actively participating in meetings with NParks and our agencies to contribute to the development of community infrastructure and landscaping works at the Corridor.
They have also been conducting monthly guided walks at the Bukit Timah Railway Station community node for members of the public, so as to cultivate a sense of community stewardship of the Corridor as a shared space for everyone, and help spearhead ground-up initiatives that would enliven and activate spaces along the Rail Corridor.
Volunteers have also been actively involved in rewilding efforts along the Rail Corridor, as part of NParks’ Forest Reforestation Action Plan, and regularly participate in invasive species removal and the planting of native trees.
These volunteers include friends from Nature Society (Singapore), the United World College of South East Asia (UWCSEA), Creative O Pre-school, and WWF-Singapore (World Wide Fund for Nature Singapore), as well as nearby residents of Mayfair Estate, Hillview and Hindhede [pronounced “heen-hede”].
I would like to thank all our volunteers for generously giving their time and energy to these endeavours, and for making the Corridor so special, because they took a stake and joined us in partnership and brought the Corridor alive. And because of their contributions, for example, we now have over 1,300 native trees planted by the community along the Rail Corridor to-date, furthering our OneMillionTrees movement.
There will be continued rejuvenation of the Rail Corridor in the coming years.
Upcoming enhancements include the installation of more amenities like shelters and toilets by mid-2023, and the completion of new community spaces such as the Buona Vista node by end-2023.
We are also working towards the re-opening of the Tanjong Pagar Railway Station after 2026.
All these will provide visitors with valuable spaces for respite and recreation, and to recall the past within our City in Nature.
Thank you, and I hope you will enjoy exploring what our special Corridor has to offer at today’s opening.