Property News

5 things you need to know about the Jurong Region Line (JRL)

May 16, 2018

When it comes to the Jurong region, almost no one talks about the good old days. Because the old days of Jurong were a contrast between smog-churning factories and residences so rural you needed a parang and two Gurkhas to get to the nearest 7-11. Rather, the good days of the Jurong region are happening right now; Jurong East has been transformed into a sprawling business and commercial hub. Tengah — more ulu than Punggol ever was — is about to morph into a HDB new town with a forest theme. Leading the change is the new Jurong Region Line.

What is the Jurong Region Line?

Jurong Region Line

The Jurong Region Line (JRL) network and projected opening dates. Info source: LTA

Adding 24 new stations to our MRT network, stations on the Jurong Region Line (JRL) will open in three phases — starting from 2026. The main beneficiaries will be residents in Choa Chu Kang, Boon Lay, and the future Tengah new town. (Note: Tengah will be around the size of Bishan even if, right now, the current population of Tengah mainly consists of homesick Air Force soldiers.)

Investors and home buyers should take note of Tengah because we’ve seen how quickly the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) revitalised Jurong. The JRL seems to be the spearhead of a new initiative to transform Tengah into an full-fledged housing estate with all the requisite amenities.

Some things to note are:

#1: The Jurong Town Hall station

There’s been a major political shift in Malaysia, so the Singapore-Kuala Lumpur High Speed Rail (HSR) is no longer a certainty. Nevertheless, the JRL includes a Jurong Town Hall Station (JE6), which will have direct access to the HSR terminal. If the planned HSR does happen, this will probably be one of the main entry points for cross-border passengers.

Of course, the HSR isn’t the only big thing about this station. JE6 is also within the Jurong Lake District, and International Business Park.

JE6 is planned to open in Phase Two of the JRL.

What this means for you: Residents in the Jurong Lake District, as well as those working in the International Business Park, will enjoy improved connectivity once the station is opened. From an investment perspective, landlords who own properties in the area could see better rentability.

The opening of the HSR — if it happens — will probably lift property values and rental rates in the area.

#2: All tracks and stations are above ground

So you have something to look at besides your phone when riding the train. But above-ground tracks are less favoured by residents, who fear noise issues. The Land Transport Authority (LTA) will likely install noise barriers to deal with this (it has already done so along stretches of elevated tracks around the island).

MRT noise barriers

Noise barriers are already a common sight along elevated MRT tracks in Singapore. Credit: LTA

What this means for you: Depending on the location and type of noise barrier used, results may vary. Some residents say it reduces the train sounds to a lover’s whisper, whereas the less lucky ones insist that the noise is still worse than a percussion section being hit by a truck.

Just to be safe, we would avoid the track-facing units when buying properties here. If you do get a track-facing unit, it’s better to avoid low and mid-floor units, or take additional steps to insulate against noise pollution at home.

#3: The JRL connects NTU to the wider train network

Nanyang Technological University (NTU) will be connected to Choa Chu Kang and Boon Lay stations, fixing a longstanding student gripe. While there are free shuttle services from NTU to existing MRT stations near to the campus, to-and-fro travel is still a time-drain for many students. Moreover, the MRT is not subject to traffic jams on the road, unlike shuttle buses.

What this means for you: This can drive demand for homes near the JRL for families with NTU students. It also brings good rental prospects for landlords — foreign students from NTU may well be inclined to rent along the JRL if they can’t get access to a dorm. NTU faculty staff who don’t fancy driving may also want homes in close proximity to the JRL.

#4: No connection to the Circle Line as previously hoped

In 2015, we heard rumours that the Jurong Region Line would link up to the Circle Line along the West Coast. As it turns out, that’s not going to happen. West Coast residents will instead have to wait (ahem) in line to be served by the Cross Island Line, which is likely to be scheduled for completion only after the JRL has opened.

What this means for you: The additional travel option would have been nice, but the overall impact is negligible. The only people who are affected are those who assumed they’d have easy access to the Circle line stations from the JRL. If that was your intention, you may need to rethink your desired location now (or get a car).

#5: There are four planned MRT stations in the Tengah area

Tengah new town (the size of Bishan) will be served by four MRT stations on the Jurong Region Line – Tengah (JS3), Tengah Plantation (JE1), Tengah Park (JE2), and Hong Kah (JS4). This is more stations than some larger existing estates.

It’s necessary to have this many stations because the government plans to make Tengah “a car-lite housing estate”. The idea is that residents will mainly be walking, cycling or shuttling around on self-driving vehicles, so the multiple train stations are necessary.

What this means for you: We note that the recently launched Le Quest condominium, by Qingjian Realty, saw a huge response to its Phase Two preview because of the JRL announcement. The site of the development is just across the road from the future Tengah Park station, which puts Le Quest residents just three stops away from the action — and a direct MRT link to the CBD — at Jurong East.

Since Tengah is still pretty much wilderness, those who move in now are hoping to leverage the first-mover advantage. Like the early buyers of the Jurong Gateway condominium, prospective buyers hope to secure affordable units in Tengah and eventually reap the benefits of property appreciation once the Forest Town of Tengah takes shape.

Even though new MRT stations are unlikely to lift property prices significantly on their own, homebuyers are clearly sold on being part of a larger growth story of the entire Jurong region. But the uncertainties surrounding the HSR show that, short of having a crystal ball, those who buy for capital appreciation must keep their feet firmly on the ground.

 

If you found this article helpful, 99.co recommends Study shows: the more greenery in the neighbourhood, the higher its value and steps to buy a new launch condo.

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