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COA News 2024

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A 2.5 km underground link will be constructed between Changi Airport T2 and future Terminal 5

SINGAPORE – A 2.5km underground link will be built to connect the future Changi Airport Terminal 5 to the existing Terminal 2, consisting of tunnels for an automated people-mover system – similar to the current Skytrain – and a separate baggage handling system.

As part of ongoing infrastructure works at the new 1,080-hectare Changi East development, the T2 link will connect T5 to Changi’s existing terminals when the mega terminal opens in the mid-2030s, the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) said ) in response to The Straits Times questions.

New details about this underground connection between terminals were first reported by Chinese-language daily Lianhe Zaobao on April 14.

Earlier in February, construction work for the T2 Link in Changi East appeared as a new item in the government’s projected development expenditure for the 2024 budget, with a total project cost of more than $722 million.

Preparatory work for the new underground connection is already underway.

According to stock exchange documents, the Singaporean subsidiary of Chinese construction company Shanghai Tunnel Engineering Co was awarded a contract worth $622 million by airport operator Changi Airport Group (CAG) in October 2023 to design and build underground structures for the new T2 link.

The contract, which also includes the rehabilitation of airport infrastructure and road surfaces affected by the works, has an expected completion date of October 2028.

Plans to dig a series of tunnels to transport luggage and people between the future T5 and the current airport, which will be separated by taxiways and one of the airport’s runways, have been in the works for years.

ST reported in 2017 that CAG already had plans at the time to build a 9-meter-wide tunnel for baggage transfers for travelers with connecting flights, and tunnels more than 6 meters wide in each direction for an underground train system between T5 and T2.

It is not clear whether these plans have changed since then, given the Covid-19 pandemic and the subsequent redesign of T5 to make it more modular. CAAS and CAG did not respond to questions seeking more details about the future T2 connection.

Mr Mayur Patel, head of Asia at aviation data consultancy OAG Aviation, said connectivity between terminals is a key element for a major air hub like Changi, and an underground link between T2 and T5 will enable seamless transfers between flights.

For example, he noted that passengers may have to arrange their own flight connections at the airport, usually from a full-service airline to a low-cost airline with two different tickets, or from one low-cost airline to another.

“For this you need a good transport network within the airport environment,” said Mr Patel. “With changing consumer trends among the next generation of travelers, airports will need to be built to cater to the changing demographics,” he added.

He said a useful benchmark for T5 could be Hong Kong International Airport, which is also being expanded.

A new 2.6 km underground automated people-mover system is being built there, which will operate at a top speed of 80 km/h and transport 10,800 passengers per hour. Hong Kong’s expanded airport will also get a new underground baggage handling system that can transport 9,600 suitcases per hour.