Alternative sites could have been chosen for the new depot and stable facilities for the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore high-speed rail (HSR) and Cross Island MRT line, but none is as suitable as the Raffles Country Club.
The golf club, which occupies an elongated plot measuring 2km end to end, is right next to the Tuas Second Link, offering both the right size and location needed for these facilities, said the Land Transport Authority (LTA) and experts.
HSR trains will cross from Malaysia into Singapore via a high bridge west of the Second Link before going underground towards a passenger terminus in Jurong East.
Mr Rajan Krishnan, chief executive of the KTC construction group, said that because of the high bridge – which is built 25m above the water – “much more land on our side is needed for trains to approach the tunnels on a gradual gradient”.
“The construction cost (of a bridge crossing) is much lower than going undersea, but it requires higher land take,” he noted.
The golf club’s site is also close to the western end of the proposed Cross Island MRT line (CRL).
Mr Krishnan said this made it doubly efficient for a CRL depot to be located there as well.
“I am a golfer, but given the choice, I would pick Raffles Country Club over, say, the industrial and commercial sites in the vicinity (to acquire),” he added.
Raffles Country Club golf manager Dennis Ee said there are other alternative sites, but he could see why the club was the more suitable choice.
“There is Safti (Military Institute) and Tengah Airbase for instance, but those are crucial defence installations,” he said.
“There are industrial plots on the other side of the road, but the Government would have to deal with a lot of stakeholders, versus only one in the case of Raffles Country Club.”
Still, Mr Ee said that the whole 36-hole golf club being acquired came as “a surprise”.
“We thought only nine or 18 holes would be acquired,” he said.
Raffles Country Club is the latest in a string of golf clubs that will go – entirely or in part – in the next few years as Singapore reprioritises its land use needs.
The Republic has among the highest concentrations of golf courses in the region, with 17 clubs occupying 1500ha.
Even so, Singapore Land Authority chief executive Tan Boon Khai said yesterday: “We are not targeting golf courses for acquisition.”
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