Transport Minister foresees teething pains ahead for new Downtown Line

Workers cleaning the Bukit Panjang Downtown Line Station that will open officially on December 27.
Workers cleaning the Bukit Panjang Downtown Line Station that will open officially on December 27.ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

SINGAPORE - Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan warned commuters about teething problems that the new section of the Downtown Line (DTL2) may face in the first few months of its operation.

In a blog post on Monday (Dec 21) morning, he drew an analogy between the new MRT line and the teething pains of his first daughter. "My wife and I felt helpless, not quite knowing what to do to relieve our girl's discomfort," he wrote. "Well, I will soon experience my first rail line's 'teething'."

The 12-station, 16.6km DTL2 will open officially on Sunday (Dec 27). It will start in Bukit Panjang, and pass through the Bukit Timah corridor towards Rochor, before connecting to the Downtown Line 1 (DTL1) at Bugis station.

Mr Khaw said that, despite the thousands of tests that engineers from the Land Transport Authority (LTA) and SBS Transit had conducted on the system, they could not fully replicate how it would perform in a live environment involving thousands of commuters.

He said: "The engineers told me to expect a 'bedding-in' period of several months before the system stabilises. This is common for all new lines."

He recalled how the DTL1, which opened in December 2013, suffered two disruptions in January and March last year. One involved a train's emergency brake and the other, a power trip.

"This time round, when we need to integrate a new stretch of the line with another that is already in operation, we can expect more challenges," he said.

He added, however: "We are working hard to minimise any disruptions in this teething process. We must also anticipate the worst, and have drawer plans for contingencies in the event that disruptions do occur.

"We want to be proud parents, not stressed-out ones."

oliviaho@sph.com.sg