Joint Release by the Land Transport Authority & SMRT - Improvements to Train Service Reliability in the Last Three Months

News Releases 28 Sep 2012 Committee of Inquiry (COI) speed restrictions service disruptions

Speed restrictions lifted, with journey times reduced by 2 to 3 minutes; train faults halved

          Train service reliability has improved in the last three months since the LTA-SMRT Joint Team started work, as train faults have reduced by some 50 percent. Improvement measures put in place by the Joint Team have significantly reduced train faults, resulting in fewer unplanned train service withdrawals. For the months of June, July and August, an average of 40 trains1 were withdrawn from service each month compared to 80 withdrawals in May.

2       The Joint Team has assessed that 80% of withdrawals are caused by train and signalling system related faults.  It has hence focused its attention on rectifying the problematic components identified, such as the train propulsion and pneumatic sub systems. SMRT will also continue to refurbish older trains and replace critical components to further reduce the number of trains withdrawn from service. This will be complemented by an enhanced maintenance regime with more emphasis placed on replacing and renewing assets, over and above repairing and maintaining them. The LTA-SMRT Joint Team will also continue its efforts to identify additional areas of improvements to enhance rail reliability.

Speed restrictions lifted along floating slab track areas

3        Speed restrictions imposed on floating slab tracks (FST) have been fully lifted from 28 September 2012 following the replacement of third rail insulator assemblies along these tracks. Train speeds in FST areas are now back to normal. The end-to-end journey time on the East West Line (EWL) and North South Line (NSL) are reduced by another two and three minutes respectively.

4        However, SMRT will continue to impose some temporary speed restrictions when certain track works like claw change-out and sleeper replacement are done. This is a necessary safety precaution to allow the operator to better monitor track performance and ensure the integrity of the system. The speed restrictions will be progressively lifted after the engineers are confident that the completed works will not affect the safety and reliability of the system.

Going beyond COI's recommendations

5        The LTA-SMRT Joint Team is in the process of implementing various recommendations by the Committee of Inquiry (COI) that was set up to look into the December 2011 train disruption incidents. Beyond the COI’s recommendations, SMRT will continue to study and use new technology to improve analytical capabilities and pre-empt problems. One example is the use of sensors on train to detect third rail cracks, sags and steps on a real-time basis, to complement the existing visual checks by patrolmen. Following a successful trial, SMRT will fit out the first train with such sensors by December 2012. In addition, the Joint Team is also exploring the use of track-borne sensors, camera and laser imaging to reinforce existing condition monitoring measures and enhance the overall analysis of data.

6        In the longer term, SMRT will be carrying out mid-life upgrades on some of its ageing trains, as well as sleeper replacement works, in addition to stepping up its maintenance of the trains and system. These measures are expected to further improve rail safety and reliability.

About the LTA-SMRT Joint Team

The LTA-SMRT joint team was formed in June 2012 to look into reducing disruptions and increasing the reliability of NSEWL. The team comprises technical engineers from both organisations. It is headed by Mr Yeo Teck Guan, Acting Group Director of Vehicle and Transit Licensing (LTA) and Mr Khoo Hean Siang, the Executive Vice President, Trains (SMRT) and reports to Chief Executives of LTA and SMRT.


1There were 39 train withdrawals in June, 40 in July and 39 in August.

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