$640m train testing centre delayed by a year, first phase to open in 2023

The Integrated Train Testing Centre is being built in two phases, and was slated to be fully operational by end 2024. PHOTO: LTA

SINGAPORE - The opening of a dedicated train testing facility in Tuas – the first of its kind in South-east Asia – has been delayed by a year.

The Integrated Train Testing Centre (ITTC) is being built in two phases, and was slated to be fully operational by end-2024.

The first phase, which includes the construction of a high-speed test track, was supposed to be completed in the fourth quarter of 2022. It is now expected to be completed in 2023, said the Land Transport Authority (LTA) on Friday.

Phase two, which involves the building of two other test tracks, workshops, an operations control centre and an administration building, will be ready only in 2025.

The ITTC is the latest rail project here to face setbacks.

Other rail projects, such as the Thomson-East Coast Line and Circle Line 6 (CCL6), were delayed by up to a year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

When ready, the ITTC will allow train and rail systems testing to be performed round the clock, freeing up limited engineering hours at night for other maintenance and renewal works.

The delay means commuters may need to continue to bear with the late opening and early closure of stations, should more engineering hours be needed to conduct such tests.

The testing centre is located on a 50ha site at the former Raffles Country Club, which was acquired for the terminated Kuala Lumpur-Singapore high-speed rail project.

South Korean firm GS Engineering clinched a $639.5 million contract to design and build the centre in 2020. Civil construction work started in March 2021.

The ITTC’s three test tracks are designed to be interoperable and can accommodate all types of signalling and communication systems used across the MRT network.

One is a looped endurance track with an uphill gradient section to test train performance; the second is a looped performance and integration track with a branched S-shaped track; and the third is a straight high-speed track that allows for tests at up to 100kmh.

When fully operational, the centre will be among the first in the world that can test different trains and rail systems at the same time, without disrupting regular passenger services.

LTA previously said the ITTC will support the testing and commissioning of trains and railway systems for both new and existing rail lines, including CCL6 and the mid-life upgrades of trains.

Testing is currently done at depots and on the main MRT lines when trains are not in service.

With the ITTC, new trains can be tested here while an MRT line is still being developed and the depots are not yet ready. Such tests typically take years and are currently done overseas.

The ITTC will also help build up local rail engineering capabilities, the authorities earlier said.

On Friday, LTA inked an agreement with the Global Centre of Rail Excellence in the United Kingdom to collaborate on the development of train testing centres in both countries.

Under the memorandum of understanding, signed during the Singapore International Transport Congress and Exhibition, LTA and the global centre will share best practices in areas such as design and engineering, among other things.

LTA deputy chief executive for infrastructure and development Chua Chong Kheng said the partnership will “help develop and grow mutual capabilities in operating such testing facilities”.

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