SMRT Rail Improvements – Updates

A tremendous amount of work is being put into renewing and upgrading the North-South and East-West Lines (NSEWL), Singapore’s oldest, longest and most heavily utilised MRT lines. 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. Following the inaugural publication in October 2015, Your Journey Matters – Edition 2 continues the story of SMRT’s rail transformation efforts on the NSEWL.

SLEEPER REPLACEMENT

Working closely with LTA and rail contractors, the SMRT team achieved a major milestone when we finished replacing wooden sleepers on the North-South Line (NSL) with concrete sleepers in April 2015. The NSEWL were built with wooden sleepers. These sleepers support the rails on which our trains run. Some 188,000 sleepers are nearing the end of their 25-year lifespan. Exposure to the sun and rain over the years, vibration from moving trains and the weight each sleeper has to bear when a train passes over it add to the wear and tear.

By renewing wooden sleepers with concrete sleepers that have a 50-year lifespan, journeys on the NSEWL will be safer and smoother for decades to come. Positive results from the sleeper replacement are already felt on the NSL. Journey times on the NSL have been reduced by around 10 per cent after the speed restrictions were fully lifted in May 2015.

Wooden sleepers along the East-West Line (EWL) are now being replaced nightly. Steady progress is being made thanks to the experience gained by our engineers while carrying out the NSL sleeper replacement project. When the work is completed by the end of 2016, passengers travelling from Pasir Ris to Joo Koon on the EWL will also experience smoother train rides.

RE-SIGNALLING

The project is progressing well with 98% of the NSL completed and 76% of the EWL re-signalling work done. We have started trials to test the new signalling system on the NSL. Re-signalling is expected to be completed on the NSL in 2017 and on the EWL in 2018.

The new signalling system will substantially improve the capacity of the NSEWL to run trains at shorter intervals. This would mean a shorter wait for trains, which would ease congestion at station platforms during peak periods. The capability will be maximised as the train fleet is progressively enlarged by end 2016 to allow more trains to be deployed on the NSEWL. More than half of the 57 new C151B trains for the NSEWL have been delivered by the middle of 2016. This underlines the importance of coordinating the multi-year, multi-project effort in rail renewal so that the combined benefits of these projects will give you a better journey on the rejuvenated NSEWL.

Under the re-signalling project, the new signalling system supplied by Thales will see one of the most advanced train signalling systems in the world installed on the NSEWL. The current signalling system, which dates back to the 1980s, keeps trains a safe distance from one another by dividing the rail network into fixed segments of track length called blocks, with only one train allowed into each block at any time. These blocks measure between 800m to 1,000m in length. This Fixed Block system protects passengers in one train from other trains operating along the same line.

The new signalling system uses advanced communications technology installed on trains to constantly update the traffic management system on the identity, location and speed of every train. The new system, which is more precise than the system it replaces, will lead to better use of the rail network because the footprint for each train, which includes the length of the train and the safety distance in front and behind the train, will be much smaller.

This Moving Block system can be imagined as a safety bubble that moves with and protects the train, and will automatically slow down when it approaches a train ahead. This shorter distance will allow us to deploy more trains at shorter intervals on the rail network while maximising safety for passengers. When fully operational, the new system will allow trains to be spaced 100 seconds apart, which is a significant improvement from the 120 seconds between trains under the current system. The new signalling system is also designed with more redundancies, which makes it more reliable because major disruptive signal faults are less likely to occur.

THIRD RAIL REPLACEMENT

SMRT passenger trains are powered by electricity supplied by a powered steel rail. This rail is called the Third Rail because it is fixed next to and slightly above the two running rails on which the train wheels travel. The Third Rail replacement project currently being carried out on the NSEWL marks the first network-wide replacement for the 200km-long NSEWL Third Rail since SMRT operations began in 1987. The trains draw electricity from the powered rails through Current Collector Devices (CCD) that make contact with the rail and transfer electricity to the train’s electrical system. Each six-car MRT train has 24 CCD shoes that are in constant contact with the Third Rail when in motion and even when it makes a stop at MRT stations.

Over the years, this constant contact adds to wear and tear of the Third Rail and the brackets that are used to support the weight of this steel rail. If the Third Rail sags due to worn out supports, power faults could occur. The Third Rail replacement project is timely as it will increase the reliability of the electrical system. The work involves turning off the power, unbolting the old Third Rails, replacing them with new ones and re-connecting the rails to the electricity network. We are making steady progress and expect to complete the work in early 2017.

UPGRADING OLDER TRAINS

The C151 Kawasaki Heavy Industries (KHI) train entered service in 1987 while the C651 Siemens was introduced in 1994. SMRT is upgrading the 19 C651 Siemens trains as they have logged a higher number of train faults compared to other train models. Singapore Rail Engineering has completed two prototype trains and will be proceeding with the upgrade works on the C651 trains.

When completed in 2018, the upgraded C651 Siemens trains will have new or refurbished train sub-systems such as new air conditioning, electric doors, brakes and propulsion systems. These have been the primary causes of delays due to train faults. Upgraded trains will also have sensors that furnish the Train Captain and engineering staff with the train’s state of health, thus making it easier to operate and maintain the train. The upgrade will include a makeover that gives our passengers a new-look cabin.

NEW TRAINS INCREASE PASSENGER CAPACITY

Thirty new C151B trains, part of a fleet of 57 new trains for the NSEWL, have been delivered to Bishan and Tuas Depots where the trains are being fitted out and will be tested extensively. These trains, designed to operate with the new signalling system, will allow more trains to be run on the NSEWL.

Before a new train enters operational service, SMRT’s engineering staff will work closely with LTA and the train manufacturer to get the new train ready. It takes about a year to do this. The work involves testing the air-conditioning, automatic doors and sensors, propulsion and brakes, communication equipment as well as interior fittings like seats, poles and handles. Every item will be rigorously tested before it is certified safe for passenger service. More new trains are on their way to Singapore and more than half of the 57 trains will be delivered by the end of 2016.

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This is part of a series on SMRT’s rail improvement efforts. Read more:

Powering SMRT Trains on the North-South and East-West Lines
SMRT- Airconditioning Improvements
SMRT- Platform Screen Door Maintenance
SMRT- Escalator Maintenance

SMRT Air Conditioning Improvements

Your Journey Matters – Edition 2 was published in October 2016 to update commuters on SMRT’s rail tranformation efforts to improve and renew the North-South and East-West Lines (NSEWL)- Singapore’s oldest, longest and most heavily used MRT lines.

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Air conditioning is crucial in keeping commuters cool on the train. An analysis on the most frequent causes of aircon failure for NSEWL trains has shown that a key cause is fuses in the aircon motors blowing out as a result of arcing caused by build up of carbon dust inside the motor.

The source of the carbon dust is the carbon brush, a component in the aircon unit that is in contact with the aircon motor. A more effective cleaning method to remove excessive carbon dust build up has been implemented and new carbon brushes are being trialed to reduce the carbon build up.

Microcards are like the brains of the aircon unit. When there is a defective microcard, the aircon does not function properly. In some situations, the unit fails to activate when temperatures get too high. Replacing defective microcards with new ones from the manufacturer is one solution, but SMRT has been working on a more sustainable solution. The Integrated Electronics Workshop team at SMRT has studied the microcard and has been refurbishing defective microcards.

The trains’ aircon units use a gas known as freon as a refrigerant which cools the air. The freon gas cycles within the unit in a closed system of coils. If freon leaks from these coils, cooling efficiency is reduced. We are stepping up efforts to plug leaks in these tubes though a process known as “brazing”. The freon also needs to be topped up when leaks are discovered. The use of a recovery machine ensures that the precise composition of refrigerant is used to ensure cooling efficiency.

The later models of trains on the NSEWL are equipped with the Trains Information Management System, or TIMS. TIMS is a system of sensors that measures various properties of the train during operations, such as measuring the internal temperature of each car. During service, train captains can check TIMS for any aircon faults. When faults are detected, a field team is activated. The team will then verify the fault and where possible, rectify the issue immediately. Further inspections on the reported aircon system will also be carried out when the train returns to the depot.

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This is part of a series on SMRT’s rail improvement efforts. Read more:
SMRT- Track Improvements
Powering SMRT Trains on the North-South and East-West Lines
SMRT- Platform Screen Door Maintenance
SMRT- Escalator Maintenance

Platform Screen Doors at SMRT MRT Stations

Your Journey Matters – Edition 2 was published in October 2016 to update commuters on SMRT’s rail tranformation efforts to improve and renew the North-South and East-West Lines (NSEWL)- Singapore’s oldest, longest and most heavily used MRT lines.

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There are 2,880 platform screen doors (PSD) across the North-South and East-West lines. A total of 816 of these are the original pneumatic PSD that were installed in underground stations. In addition, 144 electric PSDs were installed in three underground stations and all 1,920 half-height platform screen doors (HHPSD) were installed in aboveground stations in 2009, to elevate the level of safety for commuters.

As a safety feature, a train that has pulled into a station cannot depart if any of the 24 screen doors are detected as opened. Occasionally, this occurs as a false positive but there are times when the mechanisms inside the doors are faulty, resulting in the doors not closing tightly.

Each night, maintenance teams are dispatched across the island to carry out maintenance works on the screen doors. A typical work night involves checking all 24 screen doors on one side of the platform of the station, replacing worn out parts such as the rubber nose or guard, as well as cleaning and removing debris that may affect the smooth operation of the doors. The team also checks the emergency release lever, located on the train-facing side of the door to ensure that they work. The team will also test the simultaneous opening and shutting of all the doors and finally, when train service commences, the team will observe how the doors interact with incoming trains. This is known as preventive maintenance and all works are done from the platform.

Corrective maintenance on faulty doors will take longer and will require the team to access the track as works have to be done on the train-facing side of the doors. This will require close coordination with the Operations Control Centre to ensure a safe working environment for the team. Corrective maintenance for the HHPSD can be backbreaking work as the whole door has to be dismantled in order to gain access to the components that require fixing.

Concurrently, a project to replace ageing parts in all 816 pneumatic doors is underway. The pneumatic doors are almost 30 years old and ageing parts, like the actuator, are being replaced to improve its reliability. The project started in 2015 and is expected to complete in early 2017. A pre-emptive renewal project has started on the newer electrical HHPSD. Parts like the rollers and belts will be replaced ahead of the recommended end-of-life date to ensure smooth operations

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This is part of a series on SMRT’s rail improvement efforts. Read more:
SMRT- Track Improvements
Powering SMRT Trains on the North-South and East-West Lines
SMRT- Airconditioning Improvements
SMRT- Escalator Maintenance

Escalator Maintenance at SMRT Stations

Your Journey Matters – Edition 2 was published in October 2016 to update commuters on SMRT’s rail tranformation efforts to improve and renew the North-South and East-West Lines (NSEWL)- Singapore’s oldest, longest and most heavily used MRT lines.

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On 7 January 2016, SMRT awarded OTIS Elevator Co. (S) Pte Ltd the contract to refurbish 233 escalators. These escalators are located in 42 stations along the NSEWL network. The $47.3 million contract will see work take place from August 2016 to August 2021. The two main objectives are to replace ageing worn out parts such as traction machines, handrail drive, lubrication system and safety switches, and to add new safety features such as Dual Speed Controller, Variable Speed Device and Balustrade Panels Securing Mechanism.

Site Survey Exercise

Since February 2016, SMRT and OTIS jointly commenced on the pre-start escalator and site survey exercise. The objective is to provide an assessment report on pre-existing conditions of each escalator, site and identify suitable holding areas for tools, equipment and components. This report will provide a comprehensive overview of the condition of all 233 escalators and assist in prioritising of refurbishment work required.

Key Challenges

This is the first escalator upgrading project to be carried out during service hours. Unlike other major upgrade projects such as re-signalling, re-sleepering, etc, the key challenge is to minimise inconvenience to commuters.

We will prioritise the refurbishment of each escalator based on a framework of principal considerations which include minimising where possible the impact to commuters and completing works in as short a time as possible. Commuters can look forward to more reliable and safer escalator rides as part of their daily journeys once all 233 escalators are fully refurbished.

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This is part of a series on SMRT’s rail improvement efforts. Read more:
SMRT- Track Improvements
Powering SMRT Trains on the North-South and East-West Lines
SMRT- Airconditioning Improvements
SMRT- Platform Screen Door Maintenance

Powering SMRT Trains on the NSEWL

In October 2015, SMRT released the inaugural edition of Your Journey Matters, outlining SMRT’s rail transformation efforts. Almost a year later, we have published Your Journey Matters – Edition 2, which continues the story of SMRT’s ongoing efforts to improve and renew the North-South and East-West Lines (NSEWL) – Singapore’s oldest, longest and most heavily used MRT lines.

The multi-year, multi-project efforts described in Your Journey Matters underline SMRT’s commitment to serve you better. In this new edition, we also bring you updates on the ongoing station upgrades to escalators and platform screen doors, as well as a look into how the air-conditioning is maintained on our trains.

A tremendous amount of work is being put into renewing and upgrading the North-South and East-West Lines (NSEWL), Singapore’s oldest, longest and most heavily utilised MRT lines. 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.

The transformation of the NSEWL is a complex set of engineering projects. It represents the first major upgrade for the lines since they 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.

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 have stopped 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 and resources properly across different projects. Since 5 June 2016, the implementation of later train service start times on Sundays for 13 stations along the East West Line have given the engineering team much needed additional time to work each night. These extra hours are maximised for urgent maintenance and repair tasks as well as upgrade and renewal projects.

Powering the North-South and East-West Lines

With more trains due to be added to the NSL and EWL, existing power cables have to be replaced with larger capacity cables to accommodate the increase in power demand. SMRT is working with LTA to address the rail network’s future power needs.

A number of measures are being implemented to minimise inconvenience to MRT passengers due to power-related faults. These measures tie in with recommendations made by the Independent Advisory Panel, approved by LTA, on rectification measures to improve the rail power supply system.

These measures include renewing power components that are nearing the end-of-life stage on the 30-year old network with completely new components, increasing the power capacity of the network and thirdly, improving the design of the power network.

In order to improve the design of the power network, Voltage Limiting Devices will replace the existing 64P Earth Fault Relay. Works will be done on the 750V DC Switchgear & DC Cables, Direct Current Group (Rectifiers and Inverter) and High Voltage Group (AC Switchgear & HV cables) in order to renew, upgrade and increase the power capacity.

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This is part of a series on SMRT’s rail improvement efforts. Read more:
SMRT- Track Improvements
SMRT- Airconditioning Improvements
SMRT- Platform Screen Door Maintenance
SMRT- Escalator Maintenance

Providing Outstanding Customer Service

More than two million passenger trips are made on the SMRT rail network every day. Every journey is important to us. As hardware is improved, our commitment to providing quality heartware is no less important.

All NSEWL MRT stations are manned during service hours. Passengers at all our NSEWL stations will find staff close at hand to help from the first train till the last. There are many examples of how SMRT staff have gone the extra mile to help passengers in need. Our station staff receive many notes of thanks for extending a helping hand to passengers who have lost their way along our network or needed help finding lost items.

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We constantly improve customer service touch points in our network to better serve our passengers. Since 2014, we have launched programmes such as these to enhance customer service: Care Stickers to identify passengers who would appreciate a seat, Priority Queues at elevators for passengers with needs and Charging Points for passengers requiring a quick charge of their mobile devices. We have received very good feedback for all these programmes.

We continue to expand these initiatives with Escalator Safety announcements, Care Zones which allow station staff to keep an eye on and respond quickly to passengers who need help, and SNAP-REP (Snap and Report) which allows passengers to give quick comments and share pictures via WhatsApp. We value the feedback by our commuters in improving the service quality and travel experience.