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




Rail repair, maintenance: SMRT replies

We refer to the letters by Dr Ho Ting Fei (“S’pore must learn from Hong Kong’s rail operator“) and Mr Aaron Ang Chin Guan (“People make all the difference“; both published on Wednesday).

SMRT Group’s rail maintenance-related expenditure accounted for 41 per cent to 45 per cent of its rail revenue over the last four quarters (Oct 1, 2014 to Sept 30, 2015).






In other words, almost half of every dollar we collect for rail revenue goes to rail maintenance-related expenditure. This refers to rail maintenance staff costs, depreciation of rail assets and other rail maintenance-related operating expenses.

To strengthen our repair and maintenance capability, we have also substantially reinforced our engineering workforce.

Over the last three years, SMRT has grown the number of rail maintenance staff by nearly a quarter (23 per cent). For executive rail engineers alone, the numbers have grown by 70 per cent.

By 2018, SMRT aims to have more than 400 engineers (a 127 per cent increase from 2011) and more than 2,600 technicians (a 50 per cent jump from 2011).

This will complement the enlarged train fleet and help keep our rail lines running smoothly.

SMRT is fully committed to strengthening the level of service and rail reliability, and to meeting the network’s higher capacity needs and operational requirements.

Lee Ling Wee
Managing Director SMRT Trains

The Purple Parade and Mural at Marina South Pier

The Purple Parade is a movement which supports the inclusion and celebrates the abilities of persons with special needs. In support of this event, SMRT has a special PURPLE TRAIN that will help spread awareness of this event. Have you spotted this specially decorated KHI train yet?





On the same day, 23 October, at Marina South Pier the “Singapore Tapestry” was unveiled. This 31 metre long, 2.6 metres tall mural was commissioned by the Land Transport Authority (LTA) as a gift to Singapore for SG50. It will be on permanent display at Marina South Pier.

Unveiling the Tapestry

Unveiling the Singapore Tapestry

Did you know that 20 of our very own SMRT staff were also involved in creating this mural?

Willy Lim and Ivan Ching, both Managers, Train Services were part of the project.

Ivan’s piece shows a train travelling upwards amongst flora and fauna with HDB blocks in the background. He explains that this means SMRT is ever progressing but with care for the surroundings. He even points out the elephant that he put in the lower left corner of the tile.

Willy’s tile represents Singapore progress for the past 50 years. He explains, “On the left you can see the kampung house grow into a HDB block. In the middle are a bus and a train, representing the progress in transport. And finally the tree on the right. You can see a tiny man resting underneath it. That shows that we can take a moment to rest and enjoy what we’ve worked hard for.”


Were you also one of the 20 that took part in the tile making activity? Head over to Marina South Pier and spot your tile. You can even share what your tile means with us!



Exercise Greyhound – A test of emergency preparedness

At around 8:30am, 14th October, Station Manager Muhammad Fadzil bin Mahmood at Tiong Bahru Station received a phone call. He listened carefully to the other party and after hanging up, he picked up his signal set and said, “Exercise Greyhound. Due to train fault, service is not available from both Changi Airport and Pasir Ris to Joo Koon. RIMP is activated. Over.”

SMRT Assistant Station Managers setting up exercise signs at Tiong Bahru

SMRT Assistant Station Managers setting up exercise signs at Tiong Bahru

Exercise Greyhound is an annual emergency preparedness test that involves public transport operators SMRT and SBS Transit. The exercise is organised by Land Transport Authority and often presents challenging scenarios that involve both operators – Scenarios that neither operators want to see happen, but must be prepared for.

This time, Greyhound took place at Tiong Bahru, Outram and Buona Vista stations simulating the loss of service on SMRT’s East-West Line and SBST Transit’s North-East Line. Greyhound tests not only each company’s plans for service recovery but also the ability for both companies to work together.

Pulldown signs on bus services at Tiong Bahru MRT Station

Pulldown signs on free bus services at Tiong Bahru MRT Station

“Exercise Greyhound was a good experience as it puts to actual practice our emergency response plans for a major train disruption scenario. This really builds confidence and proficiency for the station staff, myself included, as this is the first time I am acting as an Incident Officer.” Said Service Operations Manager, Llewellyn Chong. Llewellyn takes care of SMRT Station Operations from Dover to Queenstown and shared that exercises are carried out regularly, albeit not all are on the same scale as Exercise Greyhound, “Some commuters are alarmed when they see the yellow signs. After we explain that services are running as normal and that we are just practicing, many say that it’s a good idea.”

Buses are activated as an alternative mode of transport when train services are affected. During disruptions, two types of bus services may be made available. Bus bridging services will mirror the affected train service route and bring commuters from train station to train station. Free bus services may also be activated. This refers free rides on the regular bus services, regardless of operator, that usually call at the designated bus stop.

SMRT bus bridging exercise

SMRT President and Group CEO Desmond Kuek, who was also on site during the exercise was pleased to see the team working well together for the exercise. “Emergency preparedness exercises such as Greyhound allow us to test our contingency plans on a regular basis with a number of agencies. At SMRT, we run similar exercises to test the readiness of operations and maintenance staff. Each staff member at each station, for instance, is tested at least once in three months. We also run exercises to test our more senior management staff, who are in charge of the Emergency Response Team, with challenging scenarios.

Today’s exercise tests SMRT’s contingency plans for service recovery, in the event of a disruption. For example, how quickly Station Staff and the Crisis Support Team members can put up directional signage at the stations and guide commuters to bus stops that support free bus services and the special trunk services.”

Permanent Way- A Rail Challenge

Every night our colleagues at Permanent Way (P-Way) race against time to conduct maintenance on our tracks. They only have about three-and-a-half hours to finish their tasks each night before the trains start running again. Our track experts took time off their busy schedule to give us insights into their job which is essential for safe rail journeys.






Line Maintenance North Zone

Assistant Engineer, Noor Effendi Bin Sahari and Technical Officer, Muhammad Johaini Bin Abdul Aziz are part of the Line Maintenance Team for the North Zone. They help with the maintenance of tracks that run from Kranji to Orchard MRT station. They do both preventive and corrective maintenance works. Some of these works includes high speed ramp replacement, turn-out bearers replacement and third rail insulator cleaning.

Johaini Bin Abdul Aziz

Technical Officer, Muhammad Johaini Bin Abdul Aziz

Noor Effendi Bin Sahari

Assistant Engineer, Noor Effendi Bin Sahari

Emergency Response Unit
Assistant Engineer, Ullas Rajan, and his team are ever-ready to rectify faults on our tracks. If the track needs to be urgently accessed to in the day, he and his team will be deployed to the site. They also perform other duties such as noise monitoring of the track. Armed with their equipment, they station themselves at the walkway to ensure that the noise level meets NEA’s standards.

Ullas Rajan

Assistant Engineer, Ullas Rajan

Maintenance and Engineering

With a torchlight and an iPad the patrolling teams walk on the tracks every night looking for defects. The unit is 17 strong and patrols are conducted in teams of two’s or three’s. It takes them four days to cover the entire network due to the limited track access time. From loose fasteners, broken crossing nose bolt to a loose third rail claw, the teams look out for a myriad of defects. They take photos of the defect and also indicate the area with a marker. If there’s a major defect, they will immediately inform the Night Duty Officer.

Rasan Puviarasan Thatchavamoorthi

Senior Assistant Engineer, Rasan Puviarasan Thatchavamoorthi

Track Renewal
Our track renewal team is responsible for renewing tracks with defects or with extensive wear and tear. On a good night, the team can replace up to three rails. Tracks are replaced for various reasons, including when there are hairline cracks, corrugation, or if the track makes unusual noises.

Chan Pat Yuen

Senior Technical Officer, Chan Pat Yuen

Technical Support
Documents are often brought on site for ease of reference but the original documents are often too big to be read easily. The technical support team redraws these documents to A4 so they can be easily read on track. The technical support team also goes on the track to measure the gauge. They use a track trolley to check the gauge of the track. The trolley has in built sensors and our colleagues push it along the track and it collects information. This information will then be downloaded on to a computer and it presents data on Excel charts.

Steve Koh Yong Seng

Technical Officer, Steve Koh Yong Seng

Engineering Trains in SMRT

Our Trains group employs an extensive range of specialised vehicles to maintain our rail network. Grouped under the Engineering Trains Branch (ETB), these vehicles roll out from our depots after passenger trains stand down. Below are the key workhorses of ETB which are used by our engineers when the rest of Singapore is asleep.

SMRT Track Tamping Vehicle

SMRT Track Tamping Vehicle

Used to tamp ballasts while simultaneously measuring and correcting track alignments so that they are longitudinally aligned and level. This is achieved by packing the ballast(crushed stones that forms the trackbed) underneath each sleeper so that each sleeper can support the track effectively. The packing of ballast is called tamping. Our TTVs ensure SMRT passengers have a smooth and safe ride.

Train number: TTV01, TTV02
Crew: 5 (minimum)
Weight: TTVO1: 37 tons
TTVO2: 63 tons
Speed: Limited to 18km/h self-propelled


Multi-function Vehicle (MFV)

Multi-function Vehicle (MFV)

A moving inspection lab, the MFV uses a rail flaw detection system to detect internal cracks within the rail in real time. The system uses roller search units with ultrasonic transducers positioned in an array of angles for thorough test coverage. Engineers aboard the MFV analyse the ultrasonic data to ensure the rails are not cracked. This vehicle also equipped with track geometry measurement system which records and check the geometry of the running rail and third rail.

Crew: 4 (minimum)
Weight: 32 tons
Speed: 18km/h self-propelled
40km/h (max speed)


Rail Grinding Vehicle (RGV)

Rail Grinding Vehicle (RGV)

Used to re-profile the rail heads and eliminate rail corrugation in order to reduce track stresses and to extend the service life of the rail, and ensure ride comfort. Rail grinding is applied to eliminate various types of rail defects, to achieve a rail profile that optimises wheel/rail contact and combats noise and vibration. This will also reduce service failures due to rail surfaces that are uneven.


Train number: RGV3, RGV5
Crew: 4 (minimum)
Weight: 118 tons
Speed: 18km/h (self-propelled), 50km/h (hauled by locomotive)



Viaduct Inspection Wagon

Viaduct Inspection Wagon

To inspect elastomer bearing mounted between the concrete grinders and columns.

Crew: 4 (minimum) + 1 (External Professional Engineer)
Weight: 36 tons
Speed: 50km/h (hauled by locomotive)

CKG Diesel Locomotives

CKG Diesel Locomotives

Our oldest diesel locomotive, introduced 29 years ago. These old locos no longer ply the North South East West Line and are used to shunt (which means to haul) passenger trains within Bishan Depot when trains go there for maintenance. Mainly utilised by Rolling Stock Workshop.

Train number: D02, D10
Crew: 2
Weight: 26 tons
Speed: 18km/h

Deli Diesel Locomotive

Deli Diesel Locomotive

Our most numerous and powerful locomotive, able to haul 240 tons. Single rail vehicle powered by its own diesel engine. Can combine with another locomotive to provide propulsion for maintenance wagons and other machinery.

Train number: D201 to 215, D216 to D219
Crew: 2
Weight: 56 tons
Speed: 50km/h

Second Generation Deli Diesel Locomotives

Second Generation Deli Diesel Locomotives

Schöma Electrical Locomotive

Schöma Electrical Locomotive

Single rail vehicle able to move by itself or combine with another to provide propulsion for maintenance wagons and other machinery. Able to move with either onboard batteries or third rail power source. It may look small but can haul over 100 tons.

Train number: EL01, EL02, EL03, EL04
Crew: 2
Weight: 34 tons
Speed: 50km/h

Tunnel Cleaning Wagon

Tunnel Cleaning Wagon

Uses high pressure water jets to clean tracks, third rail cover, mounting brackets alongside tracks and lower portion of tunnel walls.
Crew: 2
Weight: 41 tons
Speed: 50km/h (hauled by locomotive)

Heavy Crane Vehicle

Heavy Crane Vehicle

Mobile crane used to lift heavy objects of up to 3-tons.

Crew: One operator, one Rigger, one lifting supervisor
Weight: 60 tons
Speed: Limited to 18km/h

Constant improvement and renewal of our rail network

We previously put up a couple of post here here and here on the various multi-year projects SMRT is carrying out in order to renew and improve the aging network. If you didn’t have a chance to read the posts earlier, here are some excerpts about some of the projects that are going on.


Siemens Train at SMRT depot

1. Upgrading older trains to enhance fleet reliability

“The upgrade is more than a makeover that gives our passengers clean and brightly lit cabins with comfortable seating. When completed in 2018, the upgraded C651 Siemens trains will have new or refurbished train sub-systems such as new air conditioning, electric doors (which are more silent and reliable compared to pneumatic doors powered by compressed air on older trains), brakes and propulsion systems.”

Resignalling works

2. Re-signalling will allow us to run more trains with less signalling faults

“The new system supplied by Thales Canada is one of the most advanced train signalling systems in the world. When all the new trains arrive to our network, this will allow trains to be spaced 100 seconds apart, which is an improvement from the 120 seconds time between trains under the decades-old system. More frequent train arrivals, especially during peak hours, means less congestion at station platforms and a faster journey for passengers.”


SMRT Sleeper replacement

3. We have successfully replaced all 96,000 wooden sleepers on the North-South Line
“Passengers on the North-South Line enjoy a smoother and safer journey with old wooden sleepers replaced with longer lasting concrete ones. We are now working to replace 92,000 wooden sleepers on the East-West line. Works began in May 2015. We are on track to finish this by end 2016.”


This short two-minute video summarises the four main projects that are currently underway so that we can bring you a safer, more comfortable and more reliable journey.