Centre showcasing history and development of Singapore’s rail networks opens

The tour at the centre, which is now about an hour, will be expanded in the future. ST PHOTO: FELINE LIM

SINGAPORE - School students can now learn about the history of Singapore’s rail networks and how trains operate at a new exhibition at Mandai Depot.

The Singapore Rail Discovery Centre (SRDC), which is built by rail operator SMRT and supported by the Land Transport Authority, aims to showcase the journey of Singapore’s rail networks and educate younger generations about the rail industry.

Launched on Monday, the centre is open only to organised groups. Schools and other organisations that are interested in touring the centre may contact SMRT at outreach@smrt.com.sg

Divided into three zones, the centre educates visitors about the history of the rail system, how the operating staff work to ensure a seamless train ride, as well as the future of the rail industry and its new technologies.

At SRDC, visitors can experience, using virtual reality (VR), how it feels like to drive a train. With a pair of VR goggles and a simulator, they can immerse themselves in an environment that simulates real-world scenarios such as train shunting – moving a train from one track to another.

Visitors can also learn to tackle train faults through a role-playing game. In an escape-room environment, four visitors can take on different roles at SMRT, such as rail engineer or operations control centre staff, and work together to manage a train delay as a result of a signal fault.

The centre will also showcase 35 years of rail history and development, as well as exhibits such as the first train captain uniform. Information on the rail’s milestones is also displayed on an interactive screen that can be swiped through using hand gestures.

Transport Minister S. Iswaran, who was at the launch, said the idea of building a rail network in Singapore dates back to the 1960s.

“The initial proposal was to construct two main arteries – the North-South and East-West lines – that would connect the four corners of the island,” said Mr Iswaran, noting there were intense debates on the pros and cons of a rail network versus an all-bus network.

He said the decision to invest in a rail-based public transport system was made in 1982, and the first five MRT stations between Yio Chu Kang and Toa Payoh opened in 1987.

Currently, there are 192 stations across six MRT and two LRT lines.

“The success of our rail system today is the culmination of a variety of factors – the bold decisions of our pioneers, the tireless contributions of our workforce, and the daily commuting choices of Singaporeans over the past 35 years,” said Mr Iswaran. 

Transport Minister S. Iswaran touring the Singapore Rail Discovery Centre on Monday. ST PHOTO: FELINE LIM

At the centre, visitors can also learn about the core systems of the rail network as well as key train components. For example, the third rail – a steel rail that powers the trains and is parallel to the main track – is on display.

Those interested in a career in the rail industry can also take a personality test there to see which position suits them the most.

Those interested in a career in the rail industry can take a personality test at the centre to see which position suits them the most. ST PHOTO: FELINE LIM

The tour at the centre, which is now about an hour, will be expanded in the future.

Plans are in place for visitors to take a chartered train from Woodlands North MRT station to Mandai Depot as well as observe the train being washed. However, this is still under development with no time frame set.

Mr Ngien Hoon Ping, group chief executive of SMRT, said he hopes the centre will inspire new generations of Singaporeans to join this “sunrise rail industry”. 

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