SINGAPORE - Train operating hours on the North-South and East-West lines (NSEWL) will likely be shortened - including on weekdays - to give rail engineers more time to replace and upgrade the lines' ageing assets.
This was suggested by Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan in Parliament on Tuesday (Nov 7), as he delivered a ministerial statement to address recent lapses in SMRT's maintenance regime.
Mr Khaw said this will "squeeze out more engineering hours" and help the Land Transport Authority (LTA) and SMRT "speed up" projects to renew core components on the 30-year-old NSEWL.
The upgrading has reached approximately its half-way point and will last until 2024, Mr Khaw added.
"Until all these key ageing systems are replaced or renewed, the NSEWL remains at risk of major disruptions, even with diligent maintenance," he warned.
He drew an analogy between his heart operation eight years ago and the upgrading of the ageing rail assets, saying his cardiologist had advised him that if he did not bite the bullet and fix his heart problem with a bypass, he was at risk of falling dead.
SMRT had previously ended train services earlier at selected stations on the NSEWL, over stretches in 2014 and 2015, to facilitate the replacement of worn-out sleepers. Sleepers help to hold the tracks in place.
Mr Khaw said he has asked LTA to work with SMRT to see how engineering hours - which are typically three hours long - can be extended.
"Line closures will, of course, inconvenience commuters. I seek commuters' understanding and patience should we decide to do so. We are likely to do so," Mr Khaw said.