Behind the Scenes : Changi Depot & Ulu Pandan Depot

Ulu Pandan Depot

With less than 50 people working at Ulu Pandan Depot, the team play an integral part in providing a smooth journey for our commuters on the North-South, East-West lines.

Chan Gam Fai has been working at SMRT for 27 years. Since 1995, he has been based at Ulu Pandan Depot as a Technical Officer in the Rolling Stock Department(RSD). He usually works on corrective maintenance, which are reported faults. These could be faults with the air con, power or train doors. He can service all four main line train models and works on two to three trains a day on average.

Chan Gam Fai, Technical Officer

Chan Gam Fai, Technical Officer

Fixing a train could take anywhere between three to four hours to a day depending on the fault. Chan is happy at Ulu Pandan Depot as he works with a reliable team and they have forged strong bonds over the years.

Jimmy Lim Jui Mui, another unsung hero, has been working at SMRT for the last 14 years. He and his team concentrate on preventive maintenance. They work in shifts, rotating between morning, afternoon and night. Work lasts between 8-10 hours a day.

Jimmy Lim Jui Mui, working tirelessly on our trains

Jimmy Lim Jui Mui, working tirelessly on our trains

Jimmy feels that it is important that you like your job and strongly believes in team work. He said that although they are six different teams here everyone helps each other and sharing of knowledge is common.

Changi Depot

Changi Depot-SMRT

Changi Depot-SMRT

Officially opened in 1989, Changi Depot is one of our four train depots and is heavily utilized by the Rolling Stock Department (RSD). Located at 5 Koh Sek Lim road, the 25 hectare depot is home to around 70 of our colleagues.

At Changi Depot, the RSD assists with basic maintenance and repair works such as changing small components. They also conduct weekly and monthly checks of our trains. There are a total of 47 trains comprising of 3 models; the KHI C151, SIE C651 & KSF C151A.

Line Manager Abdul Hamid Bin Awang, who is part of RSD, has been with the depot since its opening. He enjoys working at Changi as it is very quiet as compared to Bishan. His only complaint is that there’s no canteen but he’s grateful that there’s a chartered bus to take them to Bedok Interchange for lunch.

 Line Manager Abdul Hamid Bin Awang (Middle) posing with Technical Officer Shamsuri Bin Amat (left) and Technical Officer Kelvin Wong (right). Collectively they have close to 75 years of experience working at SMRT.

Line Manager Abdul Hamid Bin Awang (Middle) posing with Technical Officer Shamsuri Bin Amat (left) and Technical Officer Kelvin Wong (right). Collectively they have close to 75 years of experience working at SMRT.

The existing Changi depot will be demolished with a new depot to be built beside the current site. The new Changi depot, shared between SMRT and SBST, will house the rolling stock of the East West, Downtown and Thomson-East Coast lines and is expected to be ready in 2024.



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Bukit Panjang Light Rail Transit

On 10 February 1996, Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong announced the building of the first fully automated Light Rail Transit (LRT) system at Bukit Panjang. The LRT system would operate as a feeder service to complement the existing MRT network.

Construction began in April 1996. On 6 November 1999, the Bukit Panjang LRT system was launched by Deputy Prime Minister Tony Tan. Comprising 14 stations along a 7.8 kilometre elevated track, the LRT provides an expedient link between Bukit Panjang New Town and Choa Chu Kang MRT station.

Passengers onboard the LRT

Passengers on board the LRT

The LRT adopted state-of-the-art technology and design. The trains have misting windows to protect the privacy of residents living in apartments close to the tracks. The driver-less trains are controlled by a central system, while close circuit television cameras were installed to ensure the safety and security of the passengers.

The new Bombardier CX100 in our new livery

The new Bombardier CX100 in our new livery

SMRT officers designated to operate the LRT system were sent to Pittsburgh, United States of America, to be trained on the system. These pioneers, in turn, helped to coach future operations officers.

Did you know?

– Each train-car can take up to 105 passengers.

– Approximately 50,000 passengers travel on the LRT on an average day.

– The total length of the route is 10.5km.

– The total number of stations in 14.




Free travel on board SMRT on National Day 2015

SMRT will offer free travel on board all its bus and train services on National Day (9 August 2015). Free travel will take effect on Sunday, 9 August 2015, from the start of service to the end of operation and this includes services on the North-South East-West Lines, Circle Line and the Bukit Panjang LRT. Connections between rail lines operated by the two Public Transport Operators will also be free. Commuters taking SMRT trunk and feeder bus services, as well as SMRT’s Night Rider, can board any bus free of charge.

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Results of the investigations into the 7 July NSEWL incident

The Land Transport Authority (LTA) and SMRT held a press conference this afternoon (29 Jul’15) to update the media that the joint investigation, which was carried out with the assistance from consultants from Sweden and Japan, have determined the cause of the North-South East-West Line (NSEWL) train disruption on 7 July 2015.


What was the root cause?

It was found that water was dripping onto the third rail near an insulator in a stretch of tunnel between Tanjong Pagar and Raffles Place. The water (which had natural mineral content) reduced the effectiveness of the insulator. This led to electricity flowing from the third rail into the ground.

This activated the 64P safety mechanism which tripped the power system, causing our trains to stall. The 64P, or “Touch Voltage Protection Relay” is a safety feature on the NSEWL and is used in rail systems all over the world.


What we are doing to prevent a similar incident.

To prevent similar incidents from happening again, SMRT has checked the entire NSEWL tunnels to ensure that there are no other leaks with dripping water.

All third rail insulators are being replaced, starting with those that have shown signs of ineffectiveness. Data loggers are also being installed at all substations to better monitor the condition of the insulators.

The 64P settings will be raised from 136 Volts to 200V, which will make the network less sensitive to power trips. The higher voltage setting, however, is in line with international standards, so the safety of our passengers will not be compromised by this adjustment.

The full media release can be found on the SMRT website here.

Titans in our network

With millions of passengers in transit through the MRT network every day, we need an efficient and accurate fare collection system to handle the high passenger volume. To meet this challenge, our engineers had developed the Titan Automatic Fare Collection (AFC) gates which have several smart features.
The Titans operate at 100 frames per second- faster than most CCTV cameras- which enable them to accurately detect and differentiate people from inanimate objects. The cutting-edge sensor technology can detect ankle movements which allow the gates not only to operate safely in high commuter traffic but to detect fare evasion as well.

Titans SMRT

Titan Automatic Fare Collection gates-SMRT

The Titans are 10% more energy efficient, sleeker and require less maintenance than the old fare gates. We are progressively replacing the older generation gates with the Titans. You can spot them easily with their LED and LCD displays.

Ho Wai Yin, Principal Engineer, Systems and Technology is proud to be involved in the design and deployment of the new SMRT fare gates. I wouldn’t have imagined doing this when I first joined as a Technical Officer in 1993.

Ho Wai Yin

Ho Wai Yin- 1993










We have accumulated fare system knowledge and engineering expertise within SMRT since 1987. Some of my Fare Systems teammates have been working in this area for more than 25 years. Throughout the years, we have built a very cohesive team, and a very supportive towards one another.

Fare Payment Evolution

Until the MRT came about, commuters paid cash fares to bus conductors when boarding a bus. This changed in 1987 when a fully automated fare collection system was implemented to handle the large volume of train passengers daily.

An integrated ticketing system was implemented in 1990 to provide a common fare payment system on both rail and bus services, which by then, had a total daily ridership of 2.6 million. The magnetic ticket, called the “farecard”, became the first major stored-value facility to be introduced in Singapore. Transit Link Pte Ltd ( TransitLink) was set up to collect and disburse fares received from passengers.

SMRT Magnetic Farecards

SMRT Magnetic Farecards

SMRT Magnetic Farecards with a wide range of designs

SMRT Magnetic Farecards with a wide range of designs

To enhance Singapore’s transport ticketing system, LTA introduced contactless smart cards as the new ticket medium. Following pilot tests in 2000 and 2001, LTA rolled out the Enhanced Integrated Fare System, using contactless smart cards known as ez-link cards, to replace in the magnetic cards. This was a significant milestone in the evolution of e-payments in public transport.

Pilot tests for contactless smart cards were conducted in 2000 and 2001

Pilot tests for contactless smart cards were conducted in 2000 and 2001

With the launch of the new ez-link card system, Transitlink was appointed to manage the sale, revaluation, replacement and refund of ez-link cards.
TransitLink, which was incorporated in Novemeber 1987, later became a subsidiary of LTA in April 2010.

ang-siew-tee SMRTAng Siew Tee, who has been with SMRT since 1992, was part of the group that tested the new ez-link system before it was implemented nation-wide. This picture was taken in City Hall MRT station. It was during the trial period when farecards were going to be replaced by ez-link cards. MRT staff were amongst the first to try out the new system.

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7 July NSEWL disruption investigation updates

Work on improving the robustness of the network of power cables, switches and substations that provides traction power to trains on the North-South East-West Line (NSEWL) has been put on the fast track following the 7 July 2015 power fault that disrupted train services on Singapore’s oldest MRT line.


1. What is SMRT doing to prevent an incident similar to 7/7 from happening again?

Work on improving the robustness of the network of power cables, switches and substations that provides traction power to trains on the NSEWL have been put on the fast track.

SMRT will work with LTA to segment the network of cables that supply power to the NSEWL where possible. This improvement will mean that a power fault on one part of the line will be unlikely to disrupt travel on other parts of the network. This is to be done even as trackside components are renewed.

The 7/7 NSEWL disruption underscores the urgency for SMRT engineering staff to renew NSEWL power-related infrastructure and also highlights the importance of condition monitoring efforts initiated by us a year ago.


2. How did the NSEWL break down?

SMRT has narrowed down the likely cause of the 7/7 disruption to the insulation of the third rail.

This insulation is part of the trackside infrastructure that is used to protect power cables that supply electricity to the third rail. Investigations point to the likelihood that the insulation of third rail could have affected the supply of traction power which in turn led to the tripping of the Touch Voltage Protection Relay (known by its code 64P) along multiple stretches of the NSEWL.


3. What is 64P and why did it have an impact on the decision to halt train services?

To protect the safety of commuters, the 64P relays are designed as a safety measure to mitigate the possibility of unacceptable touch voltage.

During the 7/7 disruption, the decision was made to halt train services temporarily to investigate the cause of the relays being tripped. It was these trips that resulted in loss of power that affected the train motors, air-conditioning and cabin lighting.

This decision was made to avoid a situation where a power trip would leave trains stalled in tunnels or on viaducts, which would then force commuters to detrain on track.


4. What was done to investigate the incident?

SMRT spared no effort to investigate the cause of power trips. The full and comprehensive investigation over the past nine days covered the following areas:

  • 200 km of train tracks on both bounds of the NSEWL;
  • All 67 power substations that support the NSEWL; and
  • All 115 MRT trains that were used on 7 July, and 26 additional trains at train depots.

On 11 and 12 July, the team re-enacted the incident on the NSEWL in an effort to trace the cause of the power trips. The re-enactment helped investigators rule out two earlier suspected possibilities for the power trips – two track voltage balancing cables and a relay in a power substation. This led the engineering staff to focus investigation works on the insulation of the third rail as the possible cause.

SMRT approached international operators, including London Underground, for a rail operator’s views on our preliminary assessment of the incident. This is part of SMRT’s pledge for an independent consultation into the 7 July incident, which is essential for the Company to learn from the incident and deal with it decisively to strengthen the safety and reliability of the NSEWL.

SMRT has also engaged retired staff to assist.  Two of them were part of the Mass Rapid Transit Corporation team involved in the development of the power network in the early years.  They will assist with concurrent investigative works and mitigation efforts, including the project to segregate the power network of the North-South from the East-West lines.

In the meantime, as the joint investigations by SMRT and LTA continue over the weekend to determine the root cause conclusively, with the support of the appointed external consultants, SMRT is taking all possible precautionary and preventive measures to safeguard the system in terms of safety and service reliability.


The full press release can be read on the SMRT Corporate website.

Questions about the 7 July NSEWL incident

A press release on the breakdown of the North-South East-West Line (NSEWL) was made public on 10 July, Friday. The information from that press release answers some frequently asked questions about the incident.

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Inside SMRT: Smooth train traffic with a Depot Controller

When Roslan Bin Mohamed Akif is on duty, he has to ensure that he remains vigilant throughout his shift. Roslan has been with SMRT for the last 21 years and has the mammoth task of controlling the train movements in the depot and ensuring that the highest safety standards are adhered to. Read more

Station Stories: Bras Basah MRT Station

Bras Basah MRT Station: Assistant Station Manager (ASM), Muhammad Ashek Bin Mohd Ali has been with SMRT for six years. As an ASM, part of his duties include patrols around the station.


Being the deepest MRT station in the train network, Ashek has to cover a fair bit of ground. Each patrol takes him up to twenty minutes. During the patrol, Ashek has to be vigilant as he keeps a lookout for defects, safety threats as well as hazards to ensure the safety of passengers.

ASM Ashek's patrol route includes the water feature on the ground level of Bras Basar Station.

ASM Ashek’s patrol route includes the reflection pool on the ground level of Bras Basah Station.

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