The Rail Report: New Signalling System, Rail Line and Extension and Trains Next Year

  1. The Government has made significant investments to expand and upgrade our rail network. Since 2013, the train fleets for the North-South and East-West Lines (NSEWL), the North East Line (NEL) and the Circle Line (CCL) have all increased by about 25% while the overall rail network has expanded by 20km. Rail reliability has improved, with the percentage of journeys which did not experience delays of more than 5 minutes increasing by 70%. In other words, the average distance travelled between delays of more than 5 minutes on the MRT network made a significant improvement, recording 160,000 train-km this year, as against 94,000 train-km in 2013. More rail improvements are underway, to bring faster and more comfortable journeys to commuters.          

Upgrading of Signalling System, Rigorous Testing Underway

  1. In 2012, LTA began upgrading the signalling system of our oldest line, the NSEWL, from the existing Fixed Block System to the more advanced Communications Based Train Control System, which allows trains to run more closely to each other while continuing to ensure operational safety. With the new signalling system, train intervals can be shortened from the current 120 seconds to 100 seconds, thus increasing the maximum line capacity by 20 per cent.
  2. On the North-South Line (NSL), re-signalling works on trains, stations, depots and the Operations Control Centre have completed. The Land Transport Authority (LTA) and SMRT have commenced tests on the new signalling system, by running trains fitted with the new system on the NSL during engineering hours. As the move to an entirely new signalling system is a complex project and problems could impact commuters across the entire line, LTA will, as a precautionary measure, devote more time to do more extensive tests to ensure the reliability of the system before launching it. This is also on the advice of international metro operators who have carried out similar re-signalling projects in the past. The upgraded signalling system will become operational in 1Q2017.
  3. Meanwhile, on the East-West Line (EWL), more than 80 per cent of the works to upgrade the signalling system have been completed, and the new signalling system is on track to be operational in 2018.

Tuas West Extension Completed, Signalling System in Testing Phase

  1. The civil, electrical and mechanical works on the four stations along the Tuas West Extension (TWE) have been completed. As the TWE also operates on the new NSEWL signalling system, LTA and SMRT will similarly devote more time for testing and fine-tuning it. The TWE will thus open for service in 2Q2017 instead of end-2016. 

57 New Trains for NSEWL

  1. The upgraded signalling system allows us to add our 57 new trains, which are only fitted with the new signalling system, to the NSEWL fleet. These trains are on top of the 42 trains that have already been added to the NEL and CCL fleets in 2016.
  2. The 57 new trains will be injected into the rail network progressively from now till 2019, and will bring the total train fleet size for the NSEWL from 141 to 198. In addition, LTA, as owner of rail operating assets under the New Rail Financing Framework, will be calling a tender to replace the 66 first-generation Kawasaki Heavy Industries trains that have been operating for the last 29 years with brand new ones. In the interim, we will work with SMRT to improve the reliability of the 66 first-generation trains until their replacement.

Upgrading the Power Supply System

  1. Another key component of the rail network is the power supply system. LTA had accepted, and together with the rail operators, started implementing the recommendations of the Independent Advisory Panel for Power Supply (IAP) to further improve the resilience of the power system:

a. Ramping up equipment inspections to detect and address potential issues early.

b. Installation of the Voltage Limiting Device-Fault Identification System on the Downtown Line, which will help to isolate faults to specific stretches of the system. This will limit the impact on commuters and speed up service recovery, in the event of a fault.

c. Alternative power supply – LTA has commenced talks with various agencies to implement an automatic switchover to an alternative power supply intake in the event of a loss of power.

  1. In addition to the IAP’s recommendations, LTA is also considering installing Voltage Limiting Devices for the NSEWL, and upgrading to a brand new power supply system with condition monitoring tools.

Additional Intake Substation Brings Benefits

  1. The new Tuas Depot intake substation (TDI), which began operations in July, shares the power load with the existing Buona Vista intake substation to support operations in the western region. The four new TWE stations, 11 existing stations on the EWL from Joo Koon to Jurong East and on the NSL from Jurong East to Kranji, as well as the Bukit Panjang LRT system, are now supported from TDI. The switch to the new intake substation away from the Buona Vista intake substation means that the power supply capacity buffer for the latter has doubled, and boosted its resilience in the event of a power supply disruption.

Re-sleepering and Third Rail Replacement on Track

  1. Works to renew and upgrade other parts of the system are progressing well. On the EWL, about 86% of the 90,200 timber sleepers on the viaducts between Boon Lay and Tiong Bahru stations and between Lavender and Pasir Ris stations have been replaced with concrete sleepers. Upon completion of the works by year end, trains will resume normal speeds along these stretches. The early completion of re-sleepering works is largely due to the added engineering hours from late Sunday openings of specific EWL stretches. 
  2. Third rail replacement works on the NSEWL are also progressing well, with about 53% of the works completed, and the remaining expected to be completed by next year.

Updates on New Lines

  1. Construction works for Stage 3 of the Downtown Line (DTL3) are progressing well, being close to 94% complete and on schedule to open by 2017. Electrical and mechanical installation works, as well as architectural works, are being carried out at the 16 stations. Train testing has also commenced on certain stretches such as between Fort Canning and Kaki Bukit stations.
  2. Similarly, works on the Thomson-East Coast Line (TEL) are in full swing with all contracts on the eastern stretch of the TEL awarded and construction works in progress since July 2016.
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