PM Lawrence Wong at the Opening of Thomson-East Coast Line Stage 4 (Jun 2024)

PM Lawrence Wong | 21 June 2024

Speech by Prime Minister and Minister for Finance Lawrence Wong at the opening of the Thomson-East Coast Line Stage 4 on 21 June 2024.


Transport Minister, Minister Chee Hong Tat
Colleagues and friends from MOT, LTA and SMRT
ESM Goh and DPM Heng
My fellow Grassroots Advisers
Distinguished Guests
Ladies and Gentlemen

I am very happy to join all of you this morning for the opening of the 4th stage of the Thomson-East Coast Line, or TEL4. It is extra special for me, because as all of you know, I grew up in Marine Parade, not very far from here. So being here feels like coming back home.

Opening of TEL4

The TEL is a labour of love that spanned many transport Ministers. And I am also glad that former Minister Khaw Boon Wan is able to join us today to mark this special occasion.

I would like to express my deep appreciation to the many people who have made TEL4 possible.

We have project engineers, architects, technicians, and contractors, as well as the teams from LTA and SMRT, overseeing and coordinating the entire project. They took more than a decade of hard work designing, building, and testing TEL4, getting through supply chain disruptions, and manpower constraints during the Covid pandemic, and eventually delivering this project for the benefit of so many Singaporeans. Thank you all for the hard work. Thank you very much.

A project like this of course would not have been possible without the strong support of the community. And we are very fortunate that we have got Grassroots Advisers who work closely with LTA to engage residents, working also with the Government to address residents’ feedback and concerns.

And we also have residents staying along the entire stretch from Tanjong Rhu to Bayshore, who waited patiently, especially during the construction period. You had to go through many disruptions and inconveniences. But I am sure you would all agree that it was worth the wait.

So, thank you everyone.

Benefits of TEL

It is easy to take for granted how things get built in Singapore. We say we want to do something, and eventually it gets done. It may take a bit of time, but it gets done. But if you live in many other countries in the world, including in advanced countries, people talk about doing projects, but very often it is not so easy to get things done. There will be issues around getting budget to fund the project. Sometimes there is resistance and opposition from residents or people who are inconvenienced, so you get “not-in-my-backyard” effects. Sometimes political parties change, and the new party comes into power, and they shelve the plans from the previous party. So, in many of these places, people talk about wanting to do things, but after a long time, things still cannot get done. Here in Singapore, when we say we will do something, we make sure we deliver it, and it is truly a collective achievement from all of us, working together.

I still remember what it was like when I was young, growing up not far away in Marine Terrace.

Back then, Marine Terrace was a completely new estate in the 70s, and early 80s, so we did not have very many bus services. If you are around my age or older, you will remember the City Shuttle Service – not SBS – the old, small blue buses, no air-conditioning, and that used to ply the routes around Marine Parade.

And then when the first MRT came in the 80s, it was a remarkable game changer, because it was smooth, air-conditioned, and very enjoyable.

For me, growing up as a teenager in the 80s, it was very good to get to town, because as a teenager you want to hang around in Orchard Road. And the only way to get to Orchard Road from Marine Terrace was bus no. 16 if I remember correctly. I do not know if it is still bus no. 16. Or otherwise I would have to take another bus, maybe bus no. 31 to Bedok, or a bus to Eunos, and then take the MRT.

Of course, back then, I wished there were an MRT station near my home in Marine Terrace, then I could have taken the train directly. My wish did not come true when I was in Marine Parade. It has taken a very long time, but the good things in life are worth waiting for, and I am glad this wish has truly, finally materialised.

I no longer live in Marine Parade so I cannot benefit. But I am glad that residents in Marine Parade, in East Coast, in fact, all along TEL4 can now enjoy fast, convenient, and affordable public transport.

If you are used to driving, the train is now such a convenient alternative. The journey is just as fast, maybe even faster, because you do not have to worry about parking.

Students will benefit from shorter commutes. Students from Tao Nan, and the over 10 schools that are within walking distance of a TEL4 station. And for people who want to get to town, who want to get to different places in Singapore, it is all withing a train ride away.

TEL4 will also bring the East closer to Singaporeans from other parts of the island. So for example, It will be easier to get to East Coast Park and enjoy the amenities and facilities around the entire park, as well as the beach. Everyone in the East, you are very proud of the culture, the heritage, and the food options here. You think you have the best food in Singapore. Perhaps. I cannot say that now. Maybe in the past I felt like that too growing up. But now that I have spent time as an MP in the West and in the North, I think there is good food all over Singapore. But if you grew up in the East, there is always a special place here. You know that there are excellent food options in Joo Chiat, in Katong, and I think some people have even called this TEL4 the “Makan Line”.

Of course, we did not design TEL with just park and food lovers in mind. One group of commuters we focused on are those with special needs.

LTA consulted widely with community partners, such as the Singapore Association for the Deaf and Singapore Association for the Visually Handicapped, to incorporate inclusive features.

So the station signs have larger fonts, sharper contrast and less clutter, and there are more braille texts to aid the visually impaired.

We have Hearing Enhancement Systems installed at the passenger service centres in TEL stations. These help to minimise the background noise for commuters wearing hearing aids.

And the TEL stations are also designed with more lifts and station entrances, which make getting to and from the station more convenient for those who face mobility issues.

All of these features will benefit persons with disabilities, but also seniors, and families with young children; and they will enable all Singaporeans to take the train comfortably and confidently.

With the opening of TEL4, we are one step closer to the completion of the entire TEL.

It has been more than a decade since we announced TEL.

And we have been opening the line in stages. 27 out of 32 TEL stations are now operational.

For the residents who are further east, please be patient, construction is ongoing. And the 5th stage of TEL connecting Bayshore and Sungei Bedok will be completed by 2026.

Beyond that, we will build an extension to connect TEL to Changi Airport. This will be completed in the mid-2030s, together with the opening of Terminal 5.

When the TEL is fully completed, our train network will connect Singaporeans from their doorstop to the world.

Because the eastern end will connect to Changi Airport.

And the northern end will connect to the Johor Bahru-Singapore Rapid Transit System Link.

Investments in Public Transport

The TEL is just a part of our investment in our public transport system. We are not done building Singapore and we are certainly not done expanding our rail network.

Our MRT network as all of you know started with just two lines – the East-West Line and the North-South Line, now we call the green and red lines, at that time covering just 67 kilometres. Today, with the opening of TEL4, we have six lines covering over 240 kilometres. And it will get even better in the years ahead.

Over the next decade, we will open over 50 new MRT stations, including the new Jurong Region Line and Cross Island Line – our seventh and eighth MRT lines.

The Jurong Region Line will improve connectivity within our western region, including the Jurong Lake District.

The Cross Island Line will connect the eastern, northeastern and western regions, providing more travel options and improving the resilience of our MRT network.

In the coming years, we will also open new stations and extensions on existing lines, such as the North-South Line, Circle Line and Downtown Line.

By the 2030s, eight in 10 households in Singapore will be within a 10-minute walk from a train station. 10-minute walk, not a jog. And you will be able to access a train station conveniently. Millions of Singaporeans and residents can reach their destinations using public transport easily and conveniently, day in and day out.


TEL4 is just the latest stop in our journey to build a better home for all Singaporeans.

And it is not just about public transport.

We are also improving public housing and making our neighbourhoods move liveable. We are making our city greener and more sustainable.

We have major undertakings that span many years, even decades.

These are collective efforts by all of us – to build on the foundations we have today, and to build a better Singapore for our children and grandchildren.

So I hope that today’s opening will give all of us confidence and hope for the future. That working together, we can build a more liveable and sustainable Singapore and make this a place we are all proud to call home.

Thank you very much.