The Jurong Country Club will be the site for the terminus of the high-speed rail link between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. This 67 hectare plot of land has been acquired by the government. This was announced recently on Monday, 11 May 2015.
The high-speed rail project has been in the works since September 2010. Official agreement from both countries came in 2013. It made sense as it would increase options of travel modes between the two cities. At a speed of 300 km/hr it would take an hour and a half for the trip. Currently travelling by road takes 5 hours; by railway it takes 7 hours; by plane it takes about 4 hours (including travel to airport and check in and other procedures). Most people welcome the option of a high-speed rail. But what will it mean to have the terminus at the intended location for people who live in Jurong East?
The Jurong East and Lake area has been earmarked as the second business district of Singapore. Altogether it is the size of the Marina Bay business district. Already there are five shopping malls, one large hospital, one hotel, two condominiums (still being built), and the older International Business District. Some government ministry will be occupying the office towers above one of the newer malls. Roads are also being built and widened in anticipation of increased traffic congestion. It will be very congested when all the plans are realized and the people occupy the offices and hospitals and hotels, and when the high-speed rail starts operation in seven years. What will it be like with the high speed rail terminus situated at the Jurong Country Club?
For one thing it will be sad for the members of the country club as they have to leave by November 2016 and after investing heavily in redoing the greens recently. I hope they get compensated well, but it is always difficult to satisfactorily compensate fond memories and intangibles like prestige and status. But then golf courses are enjoyed by the privileged not the majority. And though I enjoy the luxurious slice of green from my apartment window, and the peace and quiet and low density of their land usage, I must agree that for Jurong East to be a second CBD, the golf course looks like underutilized space. It was only logical that the terminus be located there and its surrounding land be developed into valuable mixed recreational, hotel, residential and office space. The development of Singapore is marked by the tears of many landowners.
A few friends told me that this would raise the values of residential property around the development, including mine. However this is nothing to yam seng about because it is mere paper gain for those of us who will be living in our apartments over the long term. Even if you sell it to realize a profit, where do you go to live, since living in a continually dynamic and progressive environment can be quite heady.
From my cycling of Jurong Lake park connector, I now get to enjoy a serene piece of green – the golf course. Sadly this will be replaced by buildings and other infrastructural development for the high-speed rail. I have to start savouring this green stretch across the lake and say my goodbyes before the golf course is taken over. In addition, the view from my apartment will change too as new buildings tower over where the country club now stands in stately dignity. Well, that’s life in Singapore. Unblocked views are never guaranteed.