A tremendous amount of work is being done to renew and upgrade the North-South East-West Line (NSEWL), Singapore’s oldest and longest MRT line.
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 being made every day. But a lot more remains to be done to modernise the NSEWL to serve you better. So SMRT must press on.
The 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 work being done is said to be the biggest modernisation project on a “live” MRT system anywhere in the world.
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, projects and resources properly. This allows our engineers and contractors to maximise the time spent on the track so that attention can be given to the more urgent tasks.
Even as we do so, the NSEWL continues to age. Just as important is close monitoring of train operations as well as the ability to adapt maintenance timetables to the ageing system because components that reach their end-of-life may need more attention.
At present, our attention is focused on key engineering projects such as:
• Sleeper replacement
• Third rail replacement
• Upgrading older trains
• Introducing new trains
• Improved monitoring of train operations and maintenance activities
• Increasing the number of engineering staff
• Providing outstanding customer service
Working closely with the Land Transport Authority (LTA) and rail contractors, the SMRT team achieved a major milestone when we finished replacing wooden sleepers on the North-South Line with concrete sleepers in April 2015.
With speed restrictions lifted along major portions of the NSL, passengers arrive at their destination faster. The new concrete sleepers provide a smoother and safer ride compared to the wooden ones that were approaching their end-of-life.
Wooden sleepers along the East-West Line 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 at the end of 2016, passengers travelling from Pasir Ris to Joo Koon (and beyond to Tuas Link when the Tuas West Extension opens in 2016) on the East-West Line will also experience better train rides.
The sleeper replacement project will involve the installation of more long-lasting concrete sleepers that support the running rails, which are the metal rails on which the trains move, and this will lead to a smoother train ride for you.
An MRT train system is a complex work of engineering with many moving parts, all of which must work in a tightly coordinated manner for safe, speedy and reliable travel.
New sleepers provide you a smooth train journey.
A modernised signalling system will allow trains to travel closer to one another. This means passengers can expect to see trains arrive more frequently at MRT stations. With one of the most advanced train signalling systems designed with onboard redundancies, SMRT expects to see signalling faults much reduced.
With a new signalling system, we can place more trains onto the tracks safely, thus increasing the capacity of the line and reducing congestion at MRT stations. In order to do so, SMRT will introduce new trains.
And when the new trains are introduced, this will allow SMRT engineers to take older trains out of service to upgrade these trains with new equipment. This project will update older trains and will, in turn, lead to better commuter experience and train services once the reliability of older train types is improved.
Much has been achieved. But we need to press on as our task is not complete.
Note: Upcoming blog installments will explain the other engineering projects under our rail transformation journey. Bookmark this blog and stay tuned for more!