Two-car train system for Sengkang LRT by the first quarter of 2016

Commuters disembarking at the Sengkang LRT station on Jan 18, 2013. Capacity on the Sengkang LRT system will be boosted by the first quarter of 2016, when train cars can be coupled to run in pairs, instead of the current single carriage system.
Commuters disembarking at the Sengkang LRT station on Jan 18, 2013. Capacity on the Sengkang LRT system will be boosted by the first quarter of 2016, when train cars can be coupled to run in pairs, instead of the current single carriage system. ST PHOTO: DESMOND FOO

SINGAPORE - Capacity on the Sengkang LRT system will be boosted by the first quarter of 2016, when train cars can be coupled to run in pairs, instead of the current single carriage system.

This will be a boon for commuters, who often have to deal with packed cabins during the rush hours, and are sometimes unable to board the trains.

The Land Transport Authority (LTA) said on Monday that it has commenced testing of two-car trains on the tracks during off-service hours this week - a milestone for the upgrading project that was first announced in 2012.

Of the 41 train cars which are used on the Sengkang-Punggol LRT network, 16 of them will be modified to operate in pairs. The LTA expects to hand them over to operator SBS Transit by the end of the year.

As of June, the Sengkang LRT is used by some 60,000 commuters daily - a 9 per cent increase in average ridership compared to a year ago.

Besides modifying the train cars, the signalling system for the Sengkang LRT was also upgraded to handle two-car operations. A successful cutover to the new system was made on Sept 27.

Upgrading of the signalling system for the Punggol stretch is currently ongoing, and is expected to be finished by the third quarter of 2016. Commuters there can also expect to have a two-car system by early 2017.

Meanwhile, Sengkang LRT users such as Mr Jimmy Bay said the additional capacity offered by the two-car system will be welcome.

"Usually at around 8.30am, the trains are very congested. I can still manage to get in, but it's a squeeze," added the 28-year-old engineer.

Moving ahead, 16 new cars will also be added to the Sengkang-Punggol LRT by 2017, boosting the capacity by 40 per cent. These 16 cars will all be able to operate in a two-car system.

The first batch of four vehicles, which are now undergoing tests in Mihara, Japan, will be delivered by the middle of November.