Free Wi-Fi at North-East Line MRT stations and 12 other stations by end-2015

People waiting to enter the train at Dhoby Ghaut MRT station along the North-East line during peak hour. By the end of next year, all MRT stations on the North-East Line and 12 more stations on the North-South Line and East-West Line will offer free
People waiting to enter the train at Dhoby Ghaut MRT station along the North-East line during peak hour. By the end of next year, all MRT stations on the North-East Line and 12 more stations on the North-South Line and East-West Line will offer free Wi-Fi access. -- PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - By the end of next year, all MRT stations on the North-East Line (NEL) and 12 more stations on the North-South Line (NSL) and East-West Line (EWL) will offer free Wi-Fi access, bringing the total to 32, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) said on Thursday.

In August this year, City Hall, Orchard and Raffles Place were the first MRT stations to provide free Wi-Fi access. Since then, Wi-Fi has been made available at some platforms at Bishan, Dhoby Ghaut and Outram Park, and will be available at all the platforms of those stations by the middle of next year.

Joining these are the rest of the stations on the NEL, as well as Ang Mo Kio, Bedok, Bukit Batok, Buona Vista, Choa Chu Kang, Clementi, Eunos, Jurong East, Khatib, Paya Lebar, Sembawang and Yishun.

In a report summarising its progress for the year and its upcoming plans, the LTA also gave updates on its existing rail network expansion and upgrading works, and a round-up of things to come.

Construction work for the second stage of the new Downtown Line is close to 90 per cent complete, with its 12 stations on schedule to open by the first quarter of 2016. Tunnelling was completed this June, and track-laying, as well as electrical and mechnical installation work, has begun.

The 16 stations on the third and final stage of the Downtown Line are on track to open by 2017. About 95 per cent of tunnelling work has been completed.

Work has started on the northern stretch of the Thomson-East Coast Line, with civil tenders to be called early next year for its eastern stretch. The line's 31 stations will be completed in stages from 2019 to 2024.

The 7.5km Tuas West Extension to the EWL, comprising four stations, is due to be completed by 2016. LTA has also called a tender to construct Canberra Station on the NSL between Sembawang and Yishun. Work will start in the second quarter of next year and is expected to be completed in 2019.

As for upgrades to the current rail network, the planned 48 per cent increase in the train fleet is under way, with more trains to be added each year from 2015 to 2019.

The first of 18 new NEL and 24 new Circle Line trains have arrived and are undergoing testing, to be put into service from the middle of 2015. The rest will arrive over the next few months.

From 2016 to 2019, 57 new trains will be added to the NSL and EWL, boosting capacity by about 40 per cent.

The LRT lines are also getting a capacity boost. Since November, 13 more train-cars have started to be progressively put into service for the Bukit Panjang LRT system, increasing the fleet by about 70 per cent.

From 2016, 16 new train-cars will arrive for the Sengkang-Punggol LRT, increasing the fleet size by about 40 per cent. By then, modification work for 16 of the 41 existing single train-cars, to allow two-car operations, will also be completed.

The ongoing upgrading of Clementi, Commonwealth and Queenstown stations is on track to be completed by the middle of next year. Next year, work will begin on another platform at Tanah Merah interchange station to provide two tracks for trains heading to and from Changi Airport. This is expected to be completed by 2024.

Other upgrading work includes the replacement of timber sleepers with concrete ones on the NSL and EWL, on track to be completed by the middle of next year for the former and end-2016 for the latter. Replacement work on the NSL is about 76 per cent complete and trains are back to travelling at full speed from Yio Chu Kang to Khatib.

Upgrading of the signalling system, which will allow trains to run at shorter intervals, is 73 per cent complete for the NSL and will start early next year for the EWL.

Next year, replacement works on the third rail of the NSL and EWL - which should improve their reliability - will also begin. The design and type testing of the third rail components are currently ongoing, with the first batch of materials to be delivered in the first quarter of next year and replacement works to start in the second quarter.

To improve the reliability of the NEL, its balanced weight anchor wires have been replaced and U-bolt replacement is ongoing. Both are components of its overhead catenary system, which supplies power to the train.

The first phase of noise barrier installation works has also started at Admiralty, Marsiling, and Sembawang stations. The LTA is now evaluating tender proposals to appoint a contractor for the next set of installation works at nine other locations along Bedok and Eunos in the east, and Clementi and Jurong in the west.