All MRT lines now on new signalling system

The EWL is the second old line to switch over to the new communications-based train control (CBTC) signalling system, after the North-South Line (NSL) in 2017.
The EWL is the second old line to switch over to the new communications-based train control (CBTC) signalling system, after the North-South Line (NSL) in 2017.PHOTO: SHIN MIN DAILY NEWS

The East-West Line (EWL) of the MRT network has switched over to a new signalling system and, going by the first morning yesterday, all seems well despite the rain.

The EWL is the second old line to switch over to the new communications-based train control (CBTC) signalling system, after the North-South Line (NSL) last year.

Compared with the NSL, the switch was smoother and less disruptive on the EWL.

With the new system, continuous service to and from the Tuas West extension has resumed. That is, trains now do not have to stop at Joo Koon station for commuters to alight, take a shuttle bus to Gul Circle, before hopping on another train to continue their westward journey.

This was the arrangement put in place last November after a train collision that was caused by, among other things, a mismatch between the old signalling system and the new one, which was already in place for the Tuas West extension.

Commuter Ethan Guo said his trip yesterday on the EWL was "smooth and uneventful". The 30-something who works for a non-governmental organisation said: "I sincerely hope this will be the start of the higher train frequency we were promised with the CBTC."

In a Facebook post on Sunday, Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan said: "After five uneventful Sunday testing (sessions) of the new signalling system for EWL, we are now ready to put the system to its final test: all-day testing of the entire line during the June school holidays.

"The last time we did the same for the NSL last year, we encountered many teething problems. With extended engineering hours, we expect a... smoother implementation for EWL this time. But still, one can never be sure until it is put to the test. We will be closely monitoring (the situation)."

With the EWL's switchover, all MRT lines in Singapore now run on the CBTC signalling system, which enables trains to run at 100-second intervals - down from 120 seconds in the previous fixed-block system.

This means a higher service frequency, a higher system capacity, and technically, less crowding on station platforms during peak periods.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 29, 2018, with the headline 'All MRT lines now on new signalling system'. Print Edition | Subscribe