My Thoughts on the Concept Master Plan and Proposals for the Rail Corridor

November 12, 2015 by  
Filed under Heritage, Nature, Recreation, Stories, Transport

By Eugene Tay

Concept Master Plan and Proposals for the Rail Corridor

I started the Green Corridor campaign in Nov 2010 to support the Nature Society’s proposal to keep the former KTM railway lands as a continuous green corridor. In 2011, together with various stakeholders and government agencies, I joined the Rail Corridor Partnership Group formed by URA. Over the last 4 years, there is no doubt that URA has been active in conducting many public engagement initiatives to understand the needs and wants of Singaporeans for the Rail Corridor. The feedback and suggestions from the public and community groups were then distilled into design briefs for the Concept Master Plan and Proposals, which was awarded to the winning teams on Monday.

I think the public reaction to the Concept Master Plan and Proposals are mixed. I hear some people liking the proposals and plans, while others worry about the developments and call for the corridor to be left as it is. I would recommend that everyone visit the exhibition at URA Centre (till 28 Nov) or view the plans online, take a closer look at the proposals and then give your honest feedback. These are not the finalised proposals, but are to be refined upon further feedback from stakeholders and the public.

Watch the winning Concept Master Plan below:

My wishlist for the Concept Master Plan goes back to my original reasons for supporting the corridor, which is that it allows more opportunities in preserving our shared memories and creating our shared vision. To preserve our shared memories, the key railway stations and railway bridges should be conserved. There should also be restoration of some railway structures and artefacts, and opportunities to remind users about the railway history. To strengthen our shared vision, there should be opportunities for different groups and communities to come together, create, play and work. I’m pleased that the Concept Master Plan has included these 2 aspects.

There are another 4 aspects in my wishlist for the Concept Master Plan and Proposals:

1) Inclusive and multi-purpose

The corridor is a public space for all Singaporeans to use and enjoy, and not only for specific groups of people. It is long enough to cater to different needs at selected locations, while keeping its identity throughout. Proper signages and suitable amentities can be placed along the corridor (but not too many).

2) Continuous and green

The corridor should be continuous and the broken linkage at some locations has to be restored. The greenery along the corridor has to be kept (and enhanced in some cases) and this is a given. This should not be compromised.

3) A balance of quiet and busy

The corridor needs to balance being busy and being quiet. At the nodes, there can be a state of being “busy”, with activities and community participation to build greater interaction and bonding. However, between the nodes, there should be a state of being “quiet”, where users can walk, run or cycle surrounded by greenery and without too much noise or activities.

The proposals might distract us with activities and developments at the nodes, but remember that between the nodes, the corridor can still fulfill our desire for a quiet place to slow down amidst the greenery.

4) No concrete pavements

The corridor should not be paved with concrete or asphalt. The common feedback from the public is that the corridor should not become another park connector. This means selection of the type of pavement material is very important, and maybe it would be good to “leave it as it is” at some suitable stretches.

Overall, I feel that the announced Concept Master Plan has met most of my wishlist (though points 3 and 4 can be further strengthened).

Not everyone would be pleased with the master plan and proposals, but I hope we can appreciate the value and potential of the corridor, and agree that we should have a public space that all Singaporeans can benefit and enjoy.

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