Weekday signalling tests inevitable, allow problems to be spotted faster

Media Replies 12 Jun 2017 signalling system

We thank Mr Timothy Lee for his letter “MRT signalling tests: Better answers needed” (8 June).


During both incidents that occurred on 1 and 2 June, SMRT Trains deployed about 700 additional staff to assist commuters and to manage the crowd at stations. TransCom officers, Traffic Police and officers from the Land Transport Authority (LTA) managed road traffic so that commuters could quickly resume their journeys using alternative modes of travel. We acknowledge that more could have been done to manage the crowds and inform commuters of the additional travel time, and will strive to improve.  


To test our new communications-based train control (CBTC) signalling system, weekday trials cannot be avoided. Testing the system under actual weekday conditions, when trains are running more frequently and have higher passenger loads, gives us the opportunity to surface problems expeditiously.


When rolling out these tests, a calibrated approach was taken with commuter safety and the impact on their journeys in mind. Full-day weekday tests only began after LTA and SMRT were satisfied with earlier off-peak and Sunday trials, which ran smoothly.


Switching back to the legacy ‘Westinghouse’ signalling system when the incidents occurred on 1 and 2 June as Mr Lee suggested, could potentially have caused an even longer delay and more inconvenience to commuters. The trains with the new signalling system that were then being tested would have had to be withdrawn from service first, before the switch could take place.       


We seek commuters’ understanding and patience as we continue testing the new signalling system which, when implemented, will bring about a more reliable system with shorter wait times.


Jeremy Yap

Deputy Chief Executive (Public Transport, Policy and Planning)

Land Transport Authority


Lee Ling Wee

Chief Executive Officer

SMRT Trains

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