MRT delays may occur as tests continue

ST VIDEO: AARON CHAN
Trials of the new signalling system - which allows trains to run closer to each other and therefore increase the line's service frequency and raise passenger capacity - started on March 28. SMRT and LTA sought commuters' understanding as the tests co
Trials of the new signalling system - which allows trains to run closer to each other and therefore increase the line's service frequency and raise passenger capacity - started on March 28. SMRT and LTA sought commuters' understanding as the tests continue.ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

Commuters should be prepared for signalling system teething problems, say LTA and SMRT

As testing of a new signalling system for the North-South Line enters its fourth month, commuters should be prepared for teething problems to persist.

In a joint statement yesterday, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) and SMRT Corp said: "In the coming weeks, we will continue to conduct intensive performance checks and deploy new software to improve the system.

"During this period, commuters may continue to experience some delay when travelling on the North- South Line, if new issues emerge."

Both parties said they sought the "continued understanding and patience" of commuters, who have been encountering glitchy service in recent weeks, although not all owing to signalling tests.

"Our team works round the clock to resolve these issues as quickly as possible," the statement said, adding that efforts were also in place to shorten recovery time when problems arise.

Trials of the new signalling system - which allows trains to run closer to each other and therefore increase the line's service frequency and raise passenger capacity - started on March 28.

Initially, the new system operated during the last hour of passenger service, progressing to full Sunday service on April 16, and full-day weekday service on May 29.

There is no indication when the testing will conclude. But experts said even if the new signalling system - which will also allow the trains to be operated without drivers - were to stabilise in the coming weeks, commuters will not see an improvement in service yet. For that to happen, National University of Singapore transport researcher Lee Der-Horng noted that additional trains will have to be fed into the system.

SMRT, LTA and signalling system supplier Thales have also been running system checks on the Tuas West Extension on the East-West Line. The extension, which operates on the new signalling system, opened for service on June 18.

There is no indication when the testing will conclude.

But experts said even if the new signalling system - which will also allow the trains to be operated without drivers - were to stabilise in the coming weeks, commuters will not see an improvement in service yet.

For that to happen, National University of Singapore transport researcher Lee Der-Horng noted that additional trains will have to be fed into the system. Dr Lee said the lines' power supply will also have to be upgraded to handle the higher load imposed by the additional trains. "After resleepering, third- rail replacement, resignalling, power supply will be the next major focus," he said.

Yesterday's joint statement came hours after a major glitch affected train service on the North-South and East-West lines during the morning peak.

The Straits Times understands that there was a train fault at Tuas Link station along the East-West Line, as well as a train with a stuck brake along the North-South Line.

Although journeys were delayed by more than half an hour, there were no alerts from the operator.

Christopher Tan

VIDEO

Major train service glitch during morning rush hour. str.sg/4EDT

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 28, 2017, with the headline 'MRT delays may occur as tests continue'. Print Edition | Subscribe