Improving Rail Service with Tighter Operating Standards

News Releases 15 Jan 2015 Operating Performance Standards (OPS) service standards

     Commuters can look forward to improved rail service with the tightening of the Operating Performance Standards (OPS)[1] on the North-South and East-West Line (NSEWL), North East Line (NEL) and Circle Line (CCL). LTA intends to tighten the OPS so that operators achieve higher service standards as our MRT network is upgraded and its capacity increased through various enhancement projects (e.g. re-sleepering, re-signalling, and new trains injected into service). These proposed enhancements will take place in stages over the next few years, allowing commuters to enjoy even shorter wait times and a better travel experience.

Shorter Wait Times

2.   Since the latest tightening of the MRT OPS, which came into effect from 1 January 2014, commuters have been enjoying shorter wait times for trains during off-peak periods as train trips on these MRT lines have increased by about 7%[2]. Commuters today can expect to wait no more than 5 minutes for trains on the NSEWL as well as on the NEL, and no more than 7 minutes for trains on the CCL[3].

3.   With the deployment of new trains from 2H2015 and the completion of re-signalling works on the North-South Line (NSL) and the East-West Line (EWL) in 2016 and 2018 respectively, commuters can expect even shorter wait times, especially during the peak periods. LTA intends to tighten standards for train frequencies during the morning and evening peak periods, as well as the shoulder peak periods, for the NSEWL, NEL and CCL. For example, during the morning peak periods, commuters can enjoy a 25% shorter wait for trains with shorter morning peak headways of 100-110 seconds[4] for the NSEWL, 120 seconds for the NEL and 160 seconds for the CCL. New trains will be put into service from 2H2015 onwards, and the expanded train fleets will allow train trips to eventually increase by an estimated 8%. During peak periods, peak capacity is estimated to increase by about 25% for rising travel demand.

4.   LTA also intends to introduce a new fleet availability standard to ensure train operators maximise the number of trains available in their expanded fleets for passenger service during peak periods. This will include train availability standards of no less than 90% for the morning peak period.

Fewer Delays and Better Reliability

5.   In 2014, the MRT network saw an improvement in reliability with half the normalised train withdrawal rates compared to 2013; normalised rates for train delays lasting more than 5 minutes have also kept steady in 2013-2014, and was about 20% lower than in 2012.

6.   The tighter OPS is intended to further improve reliability. LTA had earlier tightened the Frequency of Occurrence (FOO) standard for train disruptions, such that financial penalties may be imposed should train disruptions lasting more than 30 minutes occur more than once on a rail line in any four-week period[5]. LTA intends to further tighten this standard to also track severe service degradation incidents (i.e. where train service is available but runs at slower speeds and lengthened headways for prolonged periods) which can result in a significant increase in journey time for commuters. Operators will thus be held to higher service standards with the tracking of more incidents that inconvenience commuters.

7.   LTA had earlier introduced a new standard to restrict the occurrences of train delays (lasting more than five minutes) that inconvenience commuters. This standard tracks incidents where trains stop and resume only after more than five minutes. A new “end-to-end journey time” standard may be introduced to track cumulative delays and limit the number of train trips on each MRT line with longer travelling times.

8.   Besides train reliability, operators are held to high standards for the key equipment around and within the station. LTA intends to tighten standards to deter prolonged downtime of lifts and escalators to minimise inconvenience to commuters, especially the elderly and persons with disabilities. Operators will also have to schedule maintenance of lifts and escalators during off-peak hours and/or outside operating hours.

9.   LTA also intends to introduce new standards to enhance the security of the MRT network, in particular the reliability of operators’ Video Surveillance Systems (VSS) for stations, trains, and depots.

Improved Rail Service and Reliability Standards for Commuters

10.  Rail operators who breach the OPS stipulated in the respective RTS licences may be subject to financial penalties pursuant to the Rapid Transit Systems Act. LTA has commenced the formal processes and consultations with the rail operators to implement the proposed tightening of the OPS in stages over the next few years.

11.  With the revised OPS enhancements, commuters will experience shorter wait times especially during peak periods, fewer delays and more reliable journeys.

Annex A: Existing and Enhanced OPS for Rail Operators


[1] Under the existing licences, all operators are required to meet a set of mandatory OPS that establishes the performance required relating to service quality, safety and key equipment reliability.

[2] Train trips have increased by about 5%, 14% and 8% for NSEWL, NEL and CCL respectively.

[3] Except when trains have to be withdrawn to or launched from depots in the early morning/ late nights or for maintenance activities to sustain reliability.

[4] Revised peak headways will be 100 seconds for NSL and 110 seconds for EWL.

[5] Prior to the last MRT OPS revision that was effective from 1 January 2014, the FOO standard of a rail line requires that there should not be more than 2 service disruptions in any four-week period.


Scroll To Top

Welcome to


This quick tour will bring you through the key enhancements.

Use the links at the top navigation bar to help you find what you are looking for

Tutorial Menu Tutorial Menu Tutorial Menu

Jump straight into the popular pages that

are most relevant to you

Tutorial Popular Resources Tutorial Popular Resources Tutorial Popular Resources

Taking a bus, train, or cycling to your

destination? Plan your routes and check

the fares using these tools!

Tutorial Transport Tools Tutorial Transport Tools Tutorial Transport Tools

Our latest featured projects are just a click away!

Tutorial Featured Projects Tutorial Featured Projects Tutorial Featured Projects

Start exploring


Explore Now!