Train Service Improvements: Better Reliability and More Train Trips

News Releases
9 Jan 2014

New Technology Introduced and
Rail Infrastructure Upgraded to Enhance Reliability

Train service reliability has improved in 2013 since the implementation of several targeted measures by the LTA-SMRT and LTA-SBS Transit (SBST) Joint Teams. SMRT and SBST are also enhancing service levels by increasing the number of train trips across their MRT lines.

Improvements to Train Reliability

2          Across the MRT network, the number of incidents causing delays of more than 5 minutes for every 100,000 kilometres travelled has declined by 20%[1] in 2013 compared to 2012. The Joint Teams are working towards further reliability improvements with the introduction of new condition monitoring technology and the upgrading of rail assets.

North-South and East-West Lines (NSEWL)

3          The number of incidents resulting in delays of more than 5 minutes for every 100,000 kilometres travelled on the NSEWL has decreased by about 15% from 2012 to 2013[2]. This is due to SMRT implementing measures to address the underlying causes of train faults. Further measures to improve train reliability such as the upgrading and replacement of major train subsystems will also be carried out.

4          In the past year, SMRT has enhanced its efforts in preventive maintenance through the adoption of new technologies, such as the Automated Current Collector Devices (CCD) Detection System, the Wheel Impact Load Detection (WILD) System and the Linear Variable Differential Transformer (LVDT) System to allow early detection of faults so that engineers can identify and rectify them quickly to avoid causing inconvenience to passengers. Please refer to Annex for details of these new technologies.

5          The NSEWL’s infrastructure will also be upgraded and replaced for enhanced service reliability. Two key projects LTA and SMRT embarked on in 2013 are the replacement of timber sleepers with concrete sleepers[3] and upgrading of the signalling system. This year, LTA together with SMRT will also look at system wide renewal of the third rail. When completed, commuters can expect a smoother MRT journey. 

North East Line (NEL)

6          For NEL, the incident rate for delays of more than 5 minutes for every 100,000 kilometres travelled[4] has increased slightly, however improvements have been seen in reducing the delays caused by train/system faults for 2013. SBST has implemented targeted measures to address the underlying causes that affect reliability. This includes fleet wide replacement of train propulsion and air-conditioning components.

7          The LTA-SBST Joint team has also completed the evaluation of alternative materials for U-bolts and Balanced Weight Anchor (BWA) wires, which are components on the Overhead Catenary System (OCS). This is to mitigate the occurrence of similar incidents resulting from stress corrosion cracking of these OCS components. Replacement works have started and are expected to be completed by end-2014 for the BWA wires and end-2015 for the U-bolts. SBST has also enhanced its maintenance regime of the OCS, by stepping up on inspection frequency and conducting condition analysis of OCS components via yearly sampling. SBST will also be investing in technology to allow for more regular OCS condition monitoring.

8          SBST has also taken steps to improve their recovery time during occurrence of service disruptions. To improve recovery time relating to OCS faults, SBST has set up more recovery bases at strategic locations along the NEL equipped with essential tools and spares.

Circle Line (CCL)

9          Service reliability on the CCL has significantly improved with close to 50% reduction in incidents resulting in delays of more than 5 minutes[5]. SMRT is also completing its final stretch of the power cable replacement exercise at all CCL stations to improve reliability. The project is expected to complete by the end of this month.

More Train Trips to Reduce Waiting Times

10        Commuters can expect shorter waiting times in 2014, especially during off peak periods. Since 1 January, operators have increased the number of weekly train trips to improve train service. For the NEL, more than 400 or close to 13% more weekly train trips were added and off-peak headways now range from three to five minutes.

11        For the NSEWL, over 400 or 5% more weekly train trips will be progressively added so that their off-peak headways will be less than 5 minutes by September 2014. Peak period headways will also improve once new trains are delivered and the re-signalling project on the NSEWL are completed by 2016 and 2018 respectively. For the CCL, about 200 or 4% more weekly train trips were added since 1 January 2014, and about another 150 or 3% weekly train trips will be added in February 2014.


[1] In 2012, occurrence of delays > 5mins per 100,000km was 1.49 for the MRT network. For 2013, the figure was 1.18 (excluding the newly opened Downtown Line).

[2] In 2012, occurrence of delays > 5mins per 100,000km was 1.55 for NSEWL. For 2013, the figure was 1.30.

[3] Concrete sleepers are used as they have a lifespan of about 50 years, double that of timber sleepers.

[4] In 2012, occurrence of delays > 5mins per 100,000km was 0.89 for NEL. For 2013, the figure was 1.05. For delays caused by train/system fault, the number of occurrences of delays> 5 mins has dropped from 0.83 in 2012 to 0.73 in 2013.

[5] In 2012, occurrence of delays > 5mins per 100,000km was 1.65 for CCL. For 2013, the figure was 0.85.