Old KTM tracks to become “green spine”

The National Development Ministry is studying ways to retain the old KTM railway tracks as a green spine for nature and leisure.

The railway line running through Singapore was closed after the KTM train station at Tanjong Pagar moved to Woodlands on July 1.

Writing in his blog on Saturday, National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan said he sees a “green opportunity” for urban development that will not compromise the development potential of the lands surrounding the track.

He hopes Singaporeans will come forward with their ideas to “co-develop a workable and practical scheme”.

Mr Khaw said he had hoped to take on the project himself, but with housing matters taking up most of his time, he found a ready volunteer in Minister of State Tan Chuan-Jin.

Mr Khaw said Brigadier-General (NS) Tan has identified several angles to work from: the green aspect, heritage and history, and innovation land use marrying development and conservation.

BG Tan has been tasked to consult widely with experts, volunteers, students and residents.

And on Saturday morning, he took a trek along the railway line accompanied by several non-governmental organisations such as the Nature Society.

The Nature Society is pushing to keep the railway line as a green corridor, as the tracks link areas rich in biodiversity such as the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve and the mangroves in Mandai.

Its vice-president, Leong Kwok Peng, is hopeful something good will be in store for nature lovers.

“Ultimately, this can form a nice nature corridor where birds and animals from the north can actually move all the way down to the southern ridge. I have seen pairs of hornbills flying across this railway track and it’s beautiful,” he said.

BG Tan appeared to have been won over.

“It’s a very pristine, a very unique piece of land. So I totally understand why people say, you should preserve this,” he said.

He added he is open to preserving certain stretches of land and weaving these planning considerations into future urban development.

“The reality is that we are land scarce. So I think we are looking at, how do we develop these stretches of land in a way that makes sense. But development can come in many different ways,” he said.

Source : Channel NewsAsia – 9 Jul 2011

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