Why escalators at MRT stations take so long to repair

Escalator refurbishment project at Orchard MRT Station, on July 12, 2019.
Escalator refurbishment project at Orchard MRT Station, on July 12, 2019.ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

We thank Mr Soo Weng Keong for his feedback on escalator service at MRT stations (Maintenance and repair of escalators at MRT stations taking too long, July 10).

We agree that escalators are important for the movement of commuters in MRT stations.

To better serve commuters, SMRT has appointed Otis Singapore to work on an escalator refurbishment project at more than 40 stations on the North-South and East-West lines.

It is the first major refurbishment of escalators since the MRT began operations in 1987.

The maintenance of an escalator is usually completed within a day. However, the refurbishment of each escalator is complex and needs about four months to complete, because the process requires the removal, inspection, installation and replacement of more than 1,000 parts and major components.

Typically, parts are ordered in advance for specific escalators. While our escalators are similar in design, contractors do need to prepare for the possible varying conditions of the main components.

Due to the complexity of the refurbishment work, it is not possible to partially dismantle an escalator for upgrading works during engineering hours and put it back into service during the day when the station and trains are in operation.

Each escalator being refurbished usually has one fixed team of workers assigned to work on it, rather than multiple teams working on it 24 hours a day. This is to ensure seamless continuity of work.

In some cases, there are escalators that may take longer than four months to complete refurbishment because additional issues are discovered only after the escalators are completely dismantled.

During this refurbishment project, SMRT and Otis will continue to do our best to minimise inconvenience to commuters. At any one time, work will be carried out on one escalator per station except for the bigger stations with more escalators.

Refurbishment works for one out of four escalators at Jurong East station have been completed and it has been put back into service; the other three will begin refurbishment subsequently.

The escalators at Bugis, Clementi and Commonwealth had started refurbishment recently.

We seek commuters' understanding and patience as we continue with the refurbishment works to serve them better.

Siu Yow Wee


SMRT Building and Facilities

Frankie Goh

Associate Director


Otis Singapore