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.
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 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 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.
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 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.