MRT network on track to meet rail reliability targets: LTA

The morning crowd at Bukit Panjang MRT station. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - The MRT network achieved 354,000 train-km between delays in the first quarter of this year (2017), said the Land Transport Authority (LTA) on Wednesday (May 25), putting it on track to meet its reliability targets.

In March, Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan said the MRT system should hit 300,000 train-km between delays of more than five minutes this year.

In comparison, Hong Kong's Mass Transit Railway hit 300,000 train-km between delays in 2015 and Taipei's Rapid Transit Corporation clocked a mean distance of 800,000 train kilometres between delays exceeding five minutes in the same year.

Speaking to the media, LTA deputy chief executive for infrastructure and development Chua Chong Kheng noted that MRT's achievement was just for the first three months of the year.

"We want to sustain this, and if possible, do even better," he said.

The Downtown Line had the best performance, hitting 1,033,000 train-km between delays. The worst performing line was the 30-year-old East-West Line, which clocked only 215,000 train-km between delays.

In the first three months of 2017, there was only one service delay of more than 30 minutes for the entire MRT network - on the East-West Line.

However, the Bukit Panjang and the Sengkang-Punggol LRT lines each had two delays of more than half an hour.

Mr Chua was optimistic that rail reliability targets could be achieved despite delays on the Downtown Line earlier this month, which was later found to be caused by water seepage damaging electronic components of a screen door at the Botanic Gardens station.

As most of Singapore's rail lines are underground, water seepage is an issue that rail operators will have to "continue to deal with", he said.

"Inevitably, with the kind of geology, and the location we are at, water pressure is quite a challenge, and this is something that operators have to work at to address," he added.

The LTA also announced that it will be conducting full-day trials of the new signalling system for the North-South Line on weekdays from next week, in addition to the full-day Sunday trials, which began on April 16.

Some of the "teething problems" identified during the trials include platform screen doors not opening and trains over-running the stations, said Mr Chua.

He added that the LTA was working with rail operator SMRT and Thales - the firm handling the resignalling project - to resolve these issues.

SMRT, which operates the North-South Line, will announce details of the trial schedule soon.

The authority also gave updates on its upgrading efforts for the rail network.

The replacement of the third rail, which supplies power to trains, on the North-South and East-West Lines is more than 95 per cent complete, and works are expected to wrap up within the next month.

Tenders have also been called for the upgrading of the power system on the North-South and East-West Lines to include condition monitoring tools for better fault detection and identification. The tender will be awarded "by the end of this year or early next year", said the LTA, adding that it is a major undertaking that will take about five years to complete.

It will also be calling a tender for a "rail enterprise asset management system", that will integrate and monitor asset information across all the lines here.