The Rail Report: Higher Reliability and Expanded Network in 2017

News Releases
20 Jan 2017

The reliability of the MRT network improved last year. Trains clocked 30% longer distances before experiencing a service delay of more than five minutes, with the Mean Kilometre Between Failure improving from 133,000 train-km in 2015 to 174,000 train-km in 2016. There was, however, a slight uptick in service delays exceeding thirty minutes, from 15 incidents in 2015 to 16 incidents in 2016.  Major renewal and upgrading works are in full force to further improve reliability. In 2017, commuters can also look forward to the opening of the Tuas West Extension (TWE) and the Downtown Line 3 (DTL3), expanding our rail network by 15%.  

Signalling System Upgrade Undergoing Rigorous Testing

2. Re-signalling works on the trains, stations, depots and the Operations Control Centre for the North-South Line were completed last year, and final testing has commenced. We intend to conduct more than 1,300 tests, including simulations to ensure that the new system responds quickly and effectively to unexpected conditions such as loss of communication signals, before putting the upgraded signalling system into operation.

3. Given that the re-signalling works are complex, and international rail operators had advised that there were significant teething problems during their own projects, LTA will transit to the new signalling system progressively.  This will start from March 2017. We will begin operationalising the new signalling system during off-peak periods when there is lower ridership, such as the last hour of train service and on Sundays, before operationalising it during busier periods.

4. On the East-West Line (EWL), more than 85% of the re-signalling works have been completed, and the new signalling system is on track to be operational in 2018.

5. The upgraded re-signalling system will allow trains to be run closer together, i.e. with shorter headways between each train.  This means that during peak periods, we will be able to get trains to arrive within 100 seconds of each other, instead of 120 seconds currently. This higher train frequency during peak periods will result in an increase in train capacity of up to 20%, and hence more comfortable rides for commuters. The new system is also equipped with features that provide greater redundancies in the event of signal faults, enhancing rail reliability.

A More Robust Third Rail System

6. Works to replace the third rail system on the North-South and East-West Lines (NSEWL), which started in mid-2015, are nearing completion. The new system will enhance the reliability of the power supply to trains. Condition monitoring tools have also been put in place to detect potential power faults early, in line with our move to do more predictive maintenance. These works will improve the reliability of train services.

New Initiatives in 2017

7. Together with the operators, LTA will embark on the next phase of upgrading and renewal for the rail network this year. First, LTA will be calling a tender to replace the 66 first-generation trains on the NSEWL. We will also be carrying out major replacement and enhancement works for the backend power supply system serving the NSEWL. Both the NSEWL first-generation trains and its backend power supply system have been in use since 1987 and are near the end of their design life.  The upgrade of the power supply system should further bring down the number of power-related disruptions We are also sourcing for new trains, power rail, signalling system and various other critical components to replace the first-generation assets of the Bukit Panjang LRT.

8. Going ahead, LTA will invest even more in technology to improve rail operation and maintenance. We will expand the current suite of condition monitoring tools to be able to predict potential faults before they take place. We will also develop an Enterprise Asset Management System for the rail network, for use by both LTA and the operators. 

Rail Network to Expand by 15% in 2017

9. The opening of TWE and DTL3 will add another 15% of track length to our rail network, to about 228km.

10. TWE, with four stations, is expected to begin operations in 2Q2017, following the completion of final testing. Commuters working in the Jurong and Tuas industrial estates will enjoy significantly better public transport connectivity. For example, a commuter travelling from Woodlands to Tuas West, which now takes about 85 minutes, will save 30 minutes in travelling time. The journey will take only 55 minutes when TWE comes into operation.

11. Commuters can also look forward to the opening of DTL3 at the end of the year. Train testing has commenced along parts of DTL3. DTL3 will feature 16 new stations, among them three interchange stations - with the EWL at Expo and Tampines stations, and with the Circle Line at MacPherson station. This will provide commuters with more travel options and significantly improve travel time. For example, DTL3 will provide a rail connection from Fort Canning station to the Marina Bay area, and the train ride will take only 15 minutes, compared to 35 minutes by bus currently.

12. Works on the Thomson-East Coast Line (TEL) are progressing well. For the northern stretch, tunnelling works for the first ten stations (Woodlands North to Mount Pleasant) are 60% complete, while the tunnelling works for the stretch between Mount Pleasant to Gardens by the Bay are 15% complete. For the East Coast stretch (Tanjong Rhu to Sungei Bedok), tunnelling works are expected to commence in the second half of this year.

13. LTA is also studying the possibility of extending the TEL from Sungei Bedok to serve the future Changi Airport Terminal 5; further extending it to call at the existing Changi Airport MRT station; and transiting the stretch of the EWL between the existing Changi Airport and Tanah Merah stations to operate as part of the TEL instead. The latter can take place from 2025, after the TEL is complete. This way, commuters in future can enjoy a seamless ride on the TEL from the city centre to any of the terminals in Changi Airport without having to change lines.

14. LTA will continue to invest efforts to improve the rail network so that commuters can enjoy shorter waits, smoother rides, and more comfortable journeys.