Thomson-East Coast Line 1 (TEL1): Woodlands North to Woodlands by Train

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The Thomson-East Coast Line (TEL) is the newest MRT line to open in Singapore, though spanning just about 3.2 kilometers currently at the first stage, also known as Thomson-East Coast Line 1 (TEL1). The TEL1 serves three stations including Woodlands North, Woodlands, and Woodlands South, with a paid interchange offered at Woodlands to the existing North-South Line (NSL). As TE1 Woodlands North MRT Station is the closest MRT station to Malaysia, I decided to start my journey from Johor Bahru to try out the Thomson-East Coast Line via the Shuttle Tebrau 81dn and SMRT Bus Service 856.

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After alighting from SMRT Bus Service 856 coming from Woodlands Train Checkpoint from the Shuttle Tebrau 81dn, I headed down to Woodlands North MRT Station Exit 1.

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Woodlands North MRT Station Exit 1 is currently the only station exit in operation.

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The LED information sign at the entrance of Woodlands North MRT Station Exit 1 showing the train arrival time.

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Heading down to the concourse.

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The station concourse of Woodlands North MRT Station.

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During the first 3 days of operations on 31 January 2020, 1 February 2020 and 2 February 2020, the new Cubic fare gates were left opened as free rides were offered.

These Cubic gates will be activated from 3 February 2020 onwards. Tap your card on it to enter the system.

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The information display at the fare gate line.

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Enjoy the sight of inactive Cubic fare gates while you can.

These Cubic gates will be activated from 3 February 2020 onwards. Tap your card on it to enter the system.

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Heading down to the platform.

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The information display at the platform in large fonts for the timing in minutes.

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The line diagram is now pasted on the platform screen doors as well.

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The new MRT system map design launched in conjunction with the opening of the Thomson-East Coast Line.

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The information screen plays a corporate LTA TEL video for now, not sure if it will show advertisements in future.

Ah, who are we kidding – of course it will.

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The new Kawasaki Heavy Industries & CRRC Qingdao Sifang train arriving at Woodlands North MRT Station.

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The front view out of the new Kawasaki Heavy Industries & CRRC Qingdao Sifang train.

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The interior of the new Kawasaki Heavy Industries & CRRC Qingdao Sifang train.

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Each car on this 4-car train set comes with a different combination of seat colours.

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The LED text sign in the middle of the train, integrated with a CCTV. As compared with other trains, the CCTV here is marked out.

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The new dynamic route map display on board the new Kawasaki Heavy Industries & CRRC Qingdao Sifang train.

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The new MRT system map pasted in the new Kawasaki Heavy Industries & CRRC Qingdao Sifang train.

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The integrated builder plate (?) and CCTV at the front of the train car. Strangely, the CCTV stickers aren’t pasted here.

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The train car number of the train set I’m on.

Here’s how to read this Kawasaki Heavy Industries & CRRC Qingdao Sifang train car number of 20031:

First Digit: 2 (Always)
Second Digit: 0 (Might be Batch Number to differentiate with RTS Link sets – now in limbo because someone wants a brand new LRT instead of just topping up on a bulk order)
Third and Fourth Digit: 03 (Set Number)
Fifth Digit: 1 (Car Number in formation)

To a Japanese, this could also simply be described as “20000 Series”.

The formation of this train will thus be 20031-20032-20033-20034.

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Arriving at Woodlands MRT Station.

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Interestingly, terminal numbers are not used to indicate the terminal now, but rather, just regular station numbers.

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Heading to the North-South Line. I don’t quite like the new use of abbreviations only though, unlike the regular type of spelling out the entire line’s name. Besides, NS could mean a totally different thing in Singapore.

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Heading up to the transfer link.

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The big red signs for the North-South Line. Perhaps I’m used to Bangkok MRT signs but on first look at hese during the open house, I thought they meant “exit closed”.

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Additional signs, perhaps to help those who don’t know what NS means.

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Heading up another escalator.

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Turning left to the third escalator up to the North-South Line platforms.

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The connection between the new Thomson-East Coast Line and existing North-South Line.

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The link leads straight to the end of the platform, similar to Paya Lebar and Buona Vista.

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As free rides were offered during the 3-day period, mobile Cubic gates were brought to the link for passengers to enter and exit Woodlands MRT Station properly.

These mobile Cubic gates will not be here in this paid link from 3 February 2020 onwards.

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The new mobile Cubic gates for the Thomson-East Coast Line. The card reader is integrated with the screen.

These mobile Cubic gates will not be here in this paid link from 3 February 2020 onwards.

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Signs on the North-South Line platforms have also been updated with the new TEL-style.

Overall, the Thomson-East Coast Line may not be useful just yet with its short distance, and as such, functioning more like a high-capacity feeder bus rather than a full-fledged MRT line. The low frequency of 10 minutes during peak hours and 15 minutes during off-peak hours due to the projected low ridership on these 3 stations also doesn’t help the cause of speeding up travel times just yet, especially when including waiting time as part of the total commuting time.

Perhaps once the TEL2 to Caldecott opens when demand will increase, the Thomson-East Coast Line would be a viable option for commuting and diverting passenger traffic as part of a main spoke, rather than just being a short point-to-point shuttle.

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