Joint News Release by the Land Transport Authority (LTA) & SBS Transit - Enhancement Works for the North East Line to Commence in 2019

News Releases 17 Dec 2018 mid-life upgrade NEL train early closure train upgrade North East Line (NEL)

Upgraded Trains for Better Rides
Longer Engineering Hours for Preventive Maintenance Works


    A contract worth about $116.7 million for the mid-life upgrade of all 25 trains in the first-generation fleet of the North East Line (NEL) has been awarded to CRRC Nanjing Puzhen Co Ltd. The NEL has been serving commuters every day since the line opened 15 years ago. To ensure that commuters continue to enjoy reliable and comfortable rides, NEL operating assets will be systematically upgraded. The upgrading of trains is the first major step in this multi-year endeavour.

2.  The mid-life upgrading works for NEL include:

a.    Installing a new condition monitoring system to monitor train performance more closely and facilitate better maintenance planning;

b.    Upgrading trains’ air-conditioning, ventilation and passenger information systems for better functionality;

c.    Replacing interior fittings of the trains, such as seats, panels and flooring, for more pleasant and comfortable rides; and

d.    Detailed inspections on all the mechanical and electrical systems for the trains, with parts repaired or replaced where necessary.

3.  The mid-life upgrade of NEL trains will be funded by the Government under the New Rail Financing Framework. Works are scheduled to start in 1Q 2019 and are expected to be completed by 3Q 2024. To minimise inconveniencing commuters, the trains will be renewed and upgraded one at a time at the NEL Sengkang Depot.

4.  CRRC Nanjing Puzhen has a proven track record in several overhaul, assembly and mid-life upgrading projects in Hong Kong and China. Its upgrading solutions are technically sound and meet all technical specifications outlined in the tender. CRRC Nanjing Puzhen has also provided comprehensive management, project and logistics plans to meet the schedule for the NEL trains upgrading programme.

Early Closures at Selected NEL Stations

5.  The NEL is one of our most reliable MRT lines, and has consistently achieved 1 million Mean Kilometres Between Failures (MKBF) in 2018. However, as the NEL ages, maintenance needs to be stepped up to sustain a high level of reliability. Early closures will be implemented for the NEL starting January 2019 to support intensified maintenance and renewal works.

6.  From 4 January to 2 March 2019, NEL stations between NE12 Serangoon and NE17 Punggol will be affected by early closure at around 11.00pm on selected Fridays and Saturdays. Train services for the rest of the NEL, between NE1 HarbourFront and NE12 Serangoon, will also operate with longer intervals of about nine minutes during the early closures.

7.  From 8 to 30 March, NEL stations between NE1 HarbourFront and NE6 Dhoby Ghaut will be affected by early closure on Fridays and Saturdays. More details will be announced in due course.

NEL MRT Stations

8.  The works will cover parts of the NEL power system and platform screen doors, as well as accelerate the replacement of rail crossings, signalling point machines and tracks that have been in constant use over the years. Rail crossings and signalling point machines are essential to allow trains to switch between tracks, and their timely replacement will ensure that services continue to run safely and reliably.

9.  Said LTA’s Chief Executive Mr Ngien Hoon Ping: “The NEL has been serving commuters since 2003. It is timely for LTA and SBST to carry out an intensified maintenance and renewal programme for the NEL trains and railway infrastructure, to ensure that commuters can continue to benefit from reliable and comfortable journeys. We seek commuters’ patience and understanding as we undertake these works to serve you better.”

10. Mr Gan Juay Kiat, Chief Executive Officer of SBS Transit, said: “The extended engineering hours will enable us to intensify preventive maintenance activities as compared to what we can do during regular maintenance hours. About one-and-a-half extra hours a night during the early closure means about 12 hours more per month. This is essential, as our train system is now more than 15 years old. Concurrently, we are embarking on renewal works on the first 25 NEL trains. These combined maintenance activities are aimed at further improving overall reliability of our NEL train services.”

Alternative Travel Options

11. During the early closures between 4 January to 2 March 2019, commuters travelling between Serangoon and Punggol stations in both directions will be able to reach their destinations using a dedicated bus service, Shuttle 21. The shuttle buses will stop at designated bus stops / bus interchanges near affected stations. Fares for the shuttle service will follow the same fare structure as the trains.


Shuttle Number

Stations Served




4 January

5 January


From Punggol: NE17 Punggol to NE12 Serangoon

From Serangoon: NE12 Serangoon to NE17 Punggol

2-5 minutes

11 January

12 January

22 February

23 February

1 March

2 March

12. To facilitate connectivity, southbound train services from NE12 Serangoon to NE1 HarbourFront will be extended to 12.09am. Light Rail Transit (LRT) services will also be extended to 1.10am in Sengkang and 1.20am in Punggol.
13. As last train timings vary for each station, commuters are advised to plan ahead by checking the station-specific timings at affected MRT stations, or through SBST’s website at and social media platforms. Commuters should also cater for additional travel time when travelling between affected stations using the shuttle service.

Annex A: Last train timings on the NEL during the 4 Jan to 2 Mar 2019 early closures
Annex B: Designated bus stops and timings for Shuttle Buses during the 4 Jan to 2 Mar early closures


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