JR East Will Open Shopping Malls At 3 New Woodlands MRT Stations Before 2020

Northerners, we’ve got news for you. There will be way more shopping options in North Singapore besides Causeway Point and YewTee Point by 2020.

Plans are in motion to open shopping spaces at 3 northern MRT stations – Woodlands North, Woodlands and Woodlands South – in December.

Artist’s impression of Woodlands North Station
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And we picture them to resemble Japanese-style underground malls.

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That’s because JR East – Japan’s largest train line operator – just won the $24 million retail operation bid in August.

New malls may house Japanese brands?

The shopping malls may reportedly house some Japanese brands that are also operating in Japan malls run by JR East.

Lumine Est, one of the shopping centres operating at Shinjuku Station in Japan, is one of those brands
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These JR East shopping spaces are expected to occupy 27 out of 32 MRT stations along the Thomson-East Coast Line.

Shopping spaces at 27 MRT stations

If you’ve travelled to Japan, you’d surely remember their underground shopping complexes inside train stations, like Shinjuku Station. A majority of these shopping malls are operated by JR East.

According to Japan Times, JR East will open shopping areas at 27 of the 32 MRT stations on the Thomson-East Coast Line, AKA the Brown Line.

Map of the Brown Line MRT
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The Brown Line spans 43km starting from Woodlands North, all the way to Sungei Bedok. It’ll have 7 interchange stations linked to the North-South Line, East-West Line, North-East Line, Circle Line, and Downtown Line.

Still a work in progress, the Brown Line is expected to begin partial operation by the end of 2019.

Part of overseas business expansion

JR East, formally known as East Japan Railway Co., is opening shopping spaces in our MRT stations as part of their overseas business expansion.

Atré is a major subsidiary of JR East. Could they be opening here soon too?
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They’re also reportedly aiming to “cash in on purchasing power in Southeast Asia’s richest economy”.

With this venture in Singapore, the Tokyo-based company also earned another feather in its cap. It’s the first Japanese railway operator to develop commercial facilities at stations in foreign countries, reported Japan Times.

Winning $24mil retail operation bid

JR East won the retail operation tender for the Brown Line with SMRT, and Alphaplus Investments – a subsidiary of NTUC FairPrice – on 27 Aug.

They’ll be renting a 5,000 sq m space from the Land Transport Authority (LTA) for 16 years starting from the end of 2019.

The largest shopping area will apparently be at Woodlands Station, at 1,570 sq m.
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Meanwhile on NTUC FairPrice’s side, they’ll be opening Cheers convenience stores in these shopping spaces.

Japan-style malls the future of MRT stations?

Once the Brown Line is completed in 2024, it’ll be Singapore’s third longest MRT line.

By then, we foresee that the underground shopping scene would be a lot more vibrant since JR East may be bringing Japan-style malls to us.

If you’re not planning to go to Japan for the next few years, we hope shopping in JR East-operated malls along the Brown Line will give us a taste of the authentic ‘ekinaka’ experience once they open.

Featured image adapted from Thomson Line Construction and Nippon.