Finnish Transport Minister visits Thomson-East Coast Line site

Finnish Minister for Transport and Communication Ms Anne Berner (centre) with Mr Khaw Boon Wan, Minister of Transport (right) viewing a live demonstration of LTA's use of drones to inspect rail infrastructure.

SINGAPORE - As part of a five-day visit to Singapore which began last Thursday (Sept 14), Finland's Minister for Transport and Communications Anne Berner visited one of the sites for the upcoming Thomson-East Coast MRT line (TEL) on Monday.

Together with Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan, Ms Berner visited an 800m tunnel connecting the upcoming Orchard and Orchard Boulevard stations on the TEL.

She viewed a demonstration of how the Land Transport Authority (LTA) is testing the use of eight drones to "improve operational efficiency" at rail construction sites.

The drones are used to inspect construction work and check for defects at "difficult-to-access" locations such as train tunnels, traditionally conducted by a person using scaffolding.

"The use of drones has contributed to a safer and more cost-efficient work process, while also reducing manpower and equipment requirements," said an LTA spokesman.

The LTA is currently conducting a year-long trial of the use of drones to monitor progress at 10 worksites for the TEL. In March, it issued a request for information on the use of drones and unmanned vehicles to inspect road and rail tunnels.

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Ms Berner also viewed plans for the 43km line - which will be opened in stages between 2019 and 2024 - as well as the Rapid Transit System (RTS), which will provide a rail link between Johor Baru and Woodlands by 2024.

Last Friday, it was announced that SMRT had won the contract to operate the TEL for nine years, with a bid of $1.7 billion.

The rail operator will also manage the RTS as part of a joint venture with Prasarana Malaysia, whose subsidiary runs an MRT line through the Klang Valley in Malaysia.

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