Sleeper Replacement on the North-South East-West Lines

Improving the North-South and East-West Lines

SMRT is making good progress in its multi-year, multi-project efforts to renew the NSEWL. This marks the biggest transformation of the Lines since they were built in the 1980s.

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Your Journey Matters – An Introduction

A tremendous amount of work is being done to renew and upgrade the North-South and East-West Line (NSEWL), Singapore’s oldest, longest and most heavily utilised MRT line. The work takes place every day even as the rail network continues to serve passengers for around 20 hours a day and as the system copes with increased ridership.

SMRT progress chartThe transformation of the NSEWL is a complex engineering project. It represents the first major upgrade for the line since it started operations in 1987. Indeed, the renewal of the NSEWL is said to be the biggest modernisation project on a “live” MRT system anywhere in the world.

SMRT Rail Renewal Projects

This modernisation effort will lead to an updated and renewed railway system that will allow SMRT to run more trains, carry more passengers and serve our passengers better with faster connections across the MRT network. The multi-year, multi-project effort takes place seven days a week, all-year round. Much of the work takes place away from the public eye in train depots, deep underground in train tunnels or during the early hours of the morning when trains stop running. Progress is made every day to modernise the NSEWL to serve you better.

With just three hours every night for engineering staff to access the track when trains are not running, it is vital for SMRT to prioritise and allocate the engineering hours available and resources properly across different projects. Our engineers and contractors maximise the time spent on the track so that attention can be given to the more urgent maintenance and repair tasks as well as to the upgrade and renewal projects.

SMRT Resleepering

Much progress has been made over the past three years, thanks to significant and sustained efforts to improve train service reliability to serve our commuters better.

Improvements can be seen from charts showing key performance indicators like NSEWL train withdrawal and delays of more than five minutes.

our Journey Matters - Train withdrawal rate and Service delays per 100,000km under 5 mins

Our engineering staff achieved these improvements through a number of reliability improvements and modifications on our trains. These include upgrading the propulsion software on KNS trains, the replacement of power supply units on KHI trains and improvements to the signalling system to reduce power and signalling faults.

Efforts to refurbish ageing components on older trains are now underway. SMRT also plans to conduct a mid-life upgrade on its fleet of Siemens trains, which have logged a higher number of train faults compared to other train models.

More can certainly be done. The rise in service disruptions of more than 30 minutes since 2012 is closely monitored. We will bring down this figure as we strive towards higher rail reliability.


Related posts

Improvements on the North-South East-West Lines: Sleeper Replacement

Improvements on the North-South East-West Lines: Re-signalling

Improvements on the North-South East-West Lines: Upgrading older trains

SMRT and building Singapore’s future Rail Workforce

On 9 November, Senior Minister of State for Transport, Josephine Teo announced the $12.5 million Public Transport Manpower Development Fund that LTA will invest in to develop talent in the public transport industry. The Public Transport Manpower Development Fund will be used for initiatives spearheaded by LTA, WDA and public transport operators, like SMRT.

This is especially important for SMRT. President and Group CEO Desmond Kuek said, “People are at the centre of everything that makes the rail network run efficiently, effectively. And we’re determined to try and bring in and retain all the high quality workforce that is needed to keep rail reliability at its highest level.”

SMRT has played a crucial role in developing initiatives to nurture both current and future rail professionals. A Part-Time Diploma in Engineering Systems for Rapid Transit Technology was developed with Singapore Polytechnic for staff who wish to upskill themselves in the rapid transit industry with more knowledge and practical skills about the various areas of rail operations and maintenance. Currently, five of our own staff have enrolled in this part-time programme.


Credit: Singapore Polytechnic

For early and mid-career engineers, the comprehensive STEP-IN and STEP-UP schemes were created. STEP is essentially about providing our rail engineers with professional development and accreditation. It anchors on the professional development of engineers through the acquisition of necessary competencies in three areas: Values, Leadership, and Functional Skills.

Fresh graduates from Singapore Polytechnic and the Institute of Technical Education will be able to participate in Earn & Learn programmes which will give from them a head-start in their careers.


Credit: Singapore Institute of Technology

At the Degree level, SMRT supports the Singapore Institute of Technology’s new Sustainable Infrastructure Engineering programme by taking in 15 students for a 12-month integrated work-study arrangement.

These initiatives will help to continue building a sustainable workforce to support the growing network. Over the last 3 years, we have grown our Trains technical workforce by 21%.  From a base number of 191 engineers, we intend to more than double the numbers within the next two years.  We are making good progress, and already have a strength of 328, or more than 70%. There is strong interest from new graduates and retention has been excellent because the work is meaningful and exciting.

SMRT Maintenance Operations Centre – Improving Rail Reliability

The new SMRT Maintenance Operations Centre (MOC) is located at Bishan Depot and plays a crucial role in improving rail reliability on the North-South and East-West Lines (NSEWL). Built to complement the Operations Control Centre, which controls trains operations from SMRT’s HQ at North Bridge Road, the MOC is a great capability boost for SMRT’s real-time maintenance activation and response.

SMRT Maintenance Ops Centre

The MOC enables better quality and speed of maintenance in response to rail incidents by having experienced maintenance personnel from various engineering disciplines under one roof. Response time for incidents can be improved and the quality of realtime support provided to engineering staff attending to train, track or MRT station maintenance issues strengthened too as they have a direct line to MOC’s databases and diagnostic support.SMRT Maintenance Operations Centre

Information and data analytics are fed to MOC through condition monitoring tools, such as sensors installed on board MRT trains and trackside infrastructure allow for timely interventions that predict, prevent or pre-empt rail incidents.

Mr Lee Ling Wee, Managing Director, SMRT Trains said, “The new centre builds on past maintenance processes which saw engineering staff distributed across the NSEWL. With the MOC, engineering staff in the field are better networked, and provided with timely support when resolving complex, technical issues on the ground. Experienced staff from various engineering disciplines are co-located within the MOC where there is direct access to multiple databases presented in an integrated manner. Advice can be sent to field staff by voice, video or text messages, with a view to minimising delays and resuming train services as quickly as possible so that train service can resume quickly.”

Catching the last MRT train? Better make sure you got your timing right!

From 15 November, SMRT will be ending train services between Bugis and Tanah Merah stations along the East-West Line half an hour earlier every night from Sunday to Thursday (except for the eve of Public Holidays). This early closure will give our engineers an additional 30 minutes for our teams to work on our multi-year track renewal work.

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SMRT Bus Wash

Have you ever wondered when do our buses go for a “shower”?

After service hours every day, our buses get to enjoy their ‘Jacuzzi’ bath (also known as Automated Bus Wash) to ensure that their exterior surface are clean before they go to sleep.

SMRT Bus Wash Interior Wipe

Similar to a car wash, a bus enters the automated bus washing plant where the rotating brushes will spin back and forth to wash and polish the outer surface. The next morning when the buses ‘wake up’, our cleaning crew will sweep the bus interior to ensure that they are clean before they set off and pick you up!
How thorough is the wash? Are you curious? Check out the video to see how it’s done!

North-South East-West Line Trains in SMRT

Did you know that 141 trains are currently used to operate SMRT’s North-South East-West Lines? There are four different models and while all of them share the same dimensions (23 metres long, 3.2 metres wide and 3.7 metres tall), the train weights are different for each model, ranging from 210 tonnes to 228 tonnes.

SMRT trains in depot

1. Kawasaki Heavy Industries (KHI) C151

SMRT_KHI_Train_SQ SMRT’s oldest trains, the KHI, underwent a two and a half year mid-life refurbishment programme in 2006. These trains were then put through an upgrading and improvement programme from 2010 to 2013.



Years in service: 1987

Country of Origin: Japan

Total number of trains: 66


2. Siemens (SIE) C651

SMRT_SIE_Train_SQ The second generation trains were introduced to support the train service of the Woodlands extension. The Siemens trains are the easiest to spot as they are the only trains that come in SMRT’s white and red livery.



Years in service: 1994

Country of Origin: Austria

Total number of trains: 19


3. Kawasaki Heavy Industries & Nippon Sharyo (KNS) C751B

SMRT_KNS_Train_SQ The KNS train is slanted, giving it a more streamlined look. The train looks like its smiling at you. These 3rd generation train were introduced when SMRT opened the Changi Airport Line.



Years in service: 2000

Country of Origin: Japan

Total number of trains: 21


4. Kawasaki Heavy Industries & CSR Qingdao Sifang (KSF) C151A

SMRT_KSF_Train_SQ SMRT’s newest trains, the C151A has a similar design to the C751B, sporting the same “smile”.




Years in service: 2011

Country of Origin: China

Total number of trains: 35