The Land Transport Authority’s (LTA) plans to double Singapore’s rail network by 2030 are well on the way, with the construction of new lines progressing on schedule. The refreshing of key infrastructure components, a key plank of LTA’s medium-term strategy to improve the reliability of the North-South and East-West Lines (NSEWL), is also on track for completion. With the addition of new trains and upgrading of existing ones, commuters will be able to enjoy more comfortable and shorter journeys soon.
Progress of New Rail Lines
Opening of Downtown Line 2 and 3 on track
2 From 27 December 2015, commuters living in the Bukit Panjang and Bukit Timah areas can look forward to having an additional route into the city with the Downtown Line 2. Downtown Line 3 is also on track for completion in 2017, with most of the underground reinforced concrete works for the stations completed. Work on the above-ground structures, such as ventilation shafts and entrances, installation of the electrical and mechanical works, as well as the architectural works in the stations are progressing on schedule.
Thomson-East Coast Line construction works in full swing
3 Construction of the Thomson-East Coast Line (TEL) is also in full swing. Tunnelling works for the TEL commenced in August 2015 and the construction of earth-retaining structures for most stations are in progress. Excavation works for Caldecott, Gardens by the Bay, Marina South and Woodlands stations have commenced.
4 At the Marina Bay station, which will interchange with three MRT lines by 2021, construction and ground improvement works are ongoing to cater for the construction of TEL tunnels below the existing North-South Line (NSL) and Circle Line (CCL) ones.
Aerial shot of the Marina Bay station construction works
Upgrading the Rail Network
Upgrading of NSL signalling system on track for 2016
5 The LTA is on track to deliver the upgraded signalling system for the NSL by mid-2016. As of October 2015, works for the new signalling system for the NSL stations and tracks are more than 96% completed. More than half of the 141 trains in the current NSEWL fleet have been retrofitted with the new system, and starting last month, system tests have begun. When the signalling upgrade is completed, commuters can look forward to an increase in capacity of up to 20%, with six trains every 10 minutes from the current five. The East-West Line (EWL) will similarly have its signalling system upgraded by 2018.
Early closure for stations on EWL
6 Sleeper replacement works on the EWL are gaining momentum as SMRT commences early closures for some stations from Sunday to Thursday (excluding the eve of Public Holidays) to accelerate the pace of replacement. With some stations closing 30 minutes earlier from 15 November 2015, SMRT will be able to replace more sleepers during the short engineering hours. As a result, more than 92,000 timber sleepers on the viaducts between Boon Lay and Tiong Bahru, as well as between Lavender and Pasir Ris will be replaced with concrete sleepers by end-2016.
Workers carrying out sleeper replacement works along the EWL during engineering hours
Third rail replacement works on NSEWL
7 Replacement of the third rail system along the EWL is ongoing. About 100 to 150 metres of the third rail are being replaced every night. Meanwhile, the design and build contract for the NSL’s third rail system renewal works was awarded to Alstom Transport (S) Pte Ltd in September 2015. The third rail replacement works are targeted to be completed by March 2017.
More New Trains for Better Commuter Experience
8 Over the next four years, commuters can expect more trains in the rail network. The NSEWL will see 57 new trains added to the current fleet of 141 trains, boosting the fleet size by 40%. On the North East Line, 3 of the 18 new trains were added in October 2015, with the remaining trains to be progressively added by the end of next year. This will increase the total fleet to 43 trains, or by more than 70%. Since June this year, 13 new trains have also been added to the CCL fleet of 40 trains. By mid-2016, another 11 new CCL trains will expand the fleet size by 60% to 64 trains in total. With the addition of these new trains, commuters can look forward to shorter waiting times and less crowded rides.
9 On the Bukit Panjang LRT system, all 13 new train-cars have been added, which has increased the fleet size by about 70%. For the Sengkang-Punggol LRT (SPLRT) system, LTA has modified 16 of the 41 existing train-cars to operate in pairs, with another 16 new train-cars to be added to bring the SPLRT fleet to 57 train-cars. Testing of the modified trains for two-car operations on the Sengkang tracks has commenced this month and the capacity on the Sengkang LRT will also be boosted by the first quarter of 2016 when these coupled train-cars enter passenger service. The signalling system for the Punggol LRT is also being upgraded to enable two-car operations by the first quarter of 2017.
10 These improvement works and the roll out of new trains are part of LTA’s ongoing efforts to improve the rail network so that commuters can enjoy shorter waits, smoother rides, and more comfortable journeys.
11 To track the progress of our rail reliability plans, as well as updates on new trains and rail lines, do check out our app “Getting There Together With You!” on our Facebook page.
 The earth-retaining structure is designed and constructed to resist the lateral pressure of soil during ground excavation for the building of the underground MRT line.