Bukit Panjang LRT to start later on Sundays to allow for repairs

The Bukit Panjang LRT has experienced frequent breakdowns since it began operations in 1999. The later starting times on eight Sundays from Nov 12 will mean an extra 11/2 hours for maintenance and repairs.
The Bukit Panjang LRT has experienced frequent breakdowns since it began operations in 1999. The later starting times on eight Sundays from Nov 12 will mean an extra 11/2 hours for maintenance and repairs.ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN

For eight Sundays, starting on Nov 12, the Bukit Panjang LRT (BPLRT) will begin service at 7am instead of the usual 5.30am.

The later-than-usual Sunday starting times, which will last till the year end, will facilitate track maintenance and renewal work to replace ageing rail mounting frames and rail expansion joints on the 18-year-old line.

In a statement yesterday, operator SMRT said: "These works are important to maintain the reliability of the power rail system and ensure smooth operations of the trains."

The BPLRT is the most problematic transit line here, with unabated breakdowns since it started running in 1999.

According to Land Transport Authority statistics, the line has one delay for every 51,000 train car-km operated in the first half, less than half the 112,000 train car-km clocked by the Sengkang-Punggol LRT.

SMRT said it has only two hours each night - between the last train service and the first one the next morning - to do maintenance and repairs. The later Sunday starting times will increase this to 31/2 hours per night, it said.

To reduce the impact of the later start on commuters, shuttle bus services, which run along the LRT route, will be available from 5.30am to 7am. "Commuters are advised to plan their journeys ahead and consider alternative transport arrangements," SMRT added.

  • KEY POINTS

    WHAT: Service to begin at 7am instead of 5.30am on eight Sundays from Nov 12 to Dec 31.

    WHY: To facilitate track maintenance and renewal work to replace ageing rail mounting frames and rail expansion joints.

    SHUTTLE BUSES: Buses will be available from 5.30am to 7am along the LRT route.

Bukit Panjang resident Kok Wei Ming, who lives near Segar station, said: "I think this is a great move by SMRT to increase the maintenance work done on the LRT, which often breaks down or has its service delayed due to faults."

The 33-year-old social media manager added: "It should have done this earlier... It's better to have an extra hour and a half of maintenance every week than to have frequent breakdowns and disruptions during peak hours."

Christopher Tan

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 24, 2017, with the headline 'Bukit Panjang LRT to start later on Sundays to allow for repairs'. Print Edition | Subscribe