We refer to the letters on 3 July 2017 on recent train service disruptions on the North-South Line (NSL). We are sorry that commuters have been inconvenienced. We have recently intensified testing of the new signalling system, and together with Thales, the signalling system manufacturer, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) and SMRT are working round-the-clock to resolve the issues that the testing has surfaced.
Re-signalling is a complex exercise. As we saw in other cities that had undertaken similar projects, the new system will take many months to stabilise.
We have implemented a phased approach to the testing. Beginning in late March with off-peak and Sunday trials, LTA and SMRT only moved to full-day testing on weekdays after we were satisfied with the results from the earlier tests. However, those earlier tests were limited to hours when there were fewer commuters and the demand on the system therefore less onerous. As it turned out, more demanding operational conditions, in particular weekday peak hours, surfaced new issues which caused the service disruptions last week.
To minimise the impact on commuters, SMRT and LTA activated free bus services for all affected stations, and deployed additional staff to assist commuters. For example, on the evening of the 28 June disruption, 500 additional staff were deployed to affected MRT stations. Frequent in-station announcements were made and signages deployed to guide commuters. Updates were given on social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook throughout the evening.
However, even with all these mitigating measures, we know that commuters will still face delays to their journeys when train disruptions happen.
Hence, we are sparing no expense to improve the reliability of our rail system, including to complete the replacement of the ageing signalling system, which turns 30-years old this year. We seek commuters’ understanding as we continue with the tests. We also thank readers for their suggestions, and will study them.
Deputy Chief Executive, Public Transport, Policy & Planning
Land Transport Authority
Lee Ling Wee
Chief Executive Officer