The North-South Line (NSL): Singapore’s First Ever MRT Line

·4-min read

The North-South Line (NSL) or more commonly known as the red MRT line, is Singapore’s first and oldest MRT line. As the name suggests, the NSL connects the southern and northern regions of Singapore.

Initially, the red MRT line only had five stations which connected Yio Chu Kang to Toa Payoh, but the number of stations has since been extended over the years.

Today, the NSL has 27 stations and serves commutes from Jurong East to Marina South Pier.

North-South Line: A brief history

Planning for a mass rapid transit system actually began in 1967, as part of an urban development project that was meant to guide Singapore’s development. The design and planning would take a decade from 1972 until 1982, when construction finally began.

The MRT project actually met quite a fair amount of resistance from the government due to its scale and the cost, which may come as a surprise to some today considering how our MRT system has grown.

North-South Line MRT stations

  • Jurong East (NSL/NEL)

  • Bukit Batok (NSL)

  • Bukit Gombak (NSL)

  • Choa Chu Kang (NSL/Bukit Panjang LRT Line (BP)

  • Yew Tee (NSL)

  • Kranji (NSL)

  • Marsiling (NSL)

  • Woodlands (NSL/Thomson-East Coast Line (TEL))

  • Admiralty (NSL)

  • Sembawang (NSL)

  • Canberra (NSL)

  • Yishun (NSL)

  • Khatib (NSL)

  • Yio Chu Kang (NSL)

  • Ang Mo Kio (NSL)

  • Bishan (NSL/Circle Line (CCL))

  • Braddell (NSL)

  • Toa Payoh (NSL)

  • Novena (NSL)

  • Newton (NSL/Downtown Line (DTL))

  • Orchard (NSL)

  • Somerset (NSL)

  • Dhoby Ghaut (NSL, North-East Line (NEL), CCL)

  • City Hall (NSL, East-West Line (EWL))

  • Raffles Place (NSL, EWL)

  • Marina Bay (NSL, CCL)

  • Marina South Pier (NSL)

North-South Line now

The current NSL is 44km long, and has 27 stations - 11 of which run underground.

As the name implies, it connects the north and south parts of Singapore, and going end to end takes roughly an hour. The NSL has a mixture of above-ground stations and underground stations, with a majority of the underground stations being in the central areas.

The line starts at Jurong East in the west, and passes through central Singapore before terminating at Marina South Pier. It is one of the busier lines since it passes through major residential towns like Yishun, Ang Mo Kio, Bishan, and Toa Payoh.

Timeline of the North South MRT Line

The NSL was opened on 7 November 1987, with the first MRT stations being Yio Chu Kang to Toa Payoh. Toa Payoh Station is also the oldest MRT station in Singapore.

On 12 December 1987, service from Novena to Outram Park began. Commuters were able to switch trains at Raffles Place or City Hall, and continue their journey on the East-West Line (EWL) if they were journeying to Tanjong Pagar and beyond.

On 20 December 1988, the line was extended north to include Yishun. Slightly less than a year after on 4 November 1989, the line was extended south to Marina Bay, and the EWL was formally separated from the NSL.

In 1990, Jurong East to Choa Chu Kang was opened as part of the Branch Line, but they were eventually merged into the NSL in 1996 on the opening of the Woodlands Extension.

On 2 November 2019, Canberra MRT station was added to the NSL. The station is an infill station, meaning that the station is added into existing rail infrastructure, rather than constructed from scratch.

Located along Canberra Link, in the eastern part of Sembawang, Canberra MRT station is also near Sungei Simpang Kiri and next to Yishun. About 17,000 households will benefit from the station, which will also serve Yishun Industrial Park.

Having Canberra MRT nearby means that a lot of new and upcoming developments stand to benefit from it. HDB BTO projects, private condos, and landed property (such as Sembawang Springs Estate) will be attractive to prospective homeowners due to the proximity of the station. Canberra Plaza is also directly connected to the station via a sheltered footbridge, which offers even more convenience.

This MRT station is an important development to the estate, which has become somewhat of a talking point for being a “ghost town” due to its lack of amenities. Although it is still not very popular, Canberra’s is now a popular residential area for young families. To date, 13 HDB BTO projects have been launched in Canberra, and by the end of 2020, 8,018 units of BTO flats would have been built in the span of a decade.

Some of the more popular residential projects are the 496-unit Parc Canberra executive condo (EC), Canberra Residences and One Canberra.

The North South MRT line passes through central Singapore - PropertyGuru Singapore
The North South MRT line passes through central Singapore - PropertyGuru Singapore

 

North-South Line: The Future

Brickland MRT station and Sungei Kadut MRT station are both above-ground stations that were announced on 25 May 2019 as part of the Land Transport Master Plan 2040. We don’t know much about them for now as they are still undergoing planning, but Sungei Kadut MRT will also function as the northern terminus of the Downtown Line, following the Stage 2 Extension from Bukit Panjang.

 

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