11 new Thomson-East Coast Line MRT stations on track to open by end of year

The Land Transport Authority handed over 11 stations, including the Orchard station (pictured), to SMRT on Aug 17, 2022. PHOTO: LTA/FACEBOOK

SINGAPORE - All civil and structural works as well as systems integration and testing activities for the third stage of the Thomson-East Coast Line (TEL) have been completed, with 11 new stations set to open by the end of this year.

The Land Transport Authority (LTA) said it handed over the 11 stations to SMRT on Wednesday (Aug 17) for the rail operator to carry out further operational testing, including on the signalling system, over the next few months in preparation for the opening.

In March, Transport Minister S. Iswaran said that the 11 new TEL stations, running from Stevens through Orchard and Outram Park to Gardens by the Bay, would begin operating in the second half of 2022.

In response to media queries, LTA said the systems used for TEL stage 3 are rigorously tested to ensure they do not affect the safety and operations of existing MRT systems.

Initial testing of the signalling system was done on separate test servers that were segregated from the operational servers used for TEL stages 1 and 2, LTA added.

Integration testing was then carried out during engineering hours before the signalling software supplied by French train manufacturer Alstom was integrated into the operational servers for TEL stages 1 to 3.

Between Feb 26 and May 29, train services on the TEL started later on weekends to carve out additional engineering hours for these tests.

Singapore’s sixth and newest rail line, which currently spans nine stations, has been beset by faults in recent months.

LTA on Wednesday shed more light on these disruptions.

On April 27, 50 commuters were stuck in a stalled train between Woodlands and Woodlands South stations for more than 1½ hours due to a train fault that morning.

This was caused by a cable with damaged insulation on the train, LTA said, adding that checks on the TEL train fleet found that this was an isolated incident.

On May 19, a signal fault caused trains to move more slowly in both directions across the entire TEL resulting in an additional 10 minutes of waiting time.

This was caused by network issues that occurred after server hard disks in the TEL’s operation control centre were reinstalled following signalling tests. The issues have since been rectified, LTA said.

Finally, on July 6, a signal fault led to a 3½-hour disruption in train services along the entire line, leaving commuters stuck on six stalled trains for at least 40 minutes. The Straits Times understands this was due to testing for TEL stage 3.

The first stage of the TEL between Woodlands North and Woodlands South stations opened in January 2020, with the second stage - comprising six stations between Springleaf and Caldecott - opening in August last year.

TEL stage 3 has 13 stations, but Mount Pleasant and Marina South stations will remain closed until housing developments around them are ready.

Caldecott MRT station was one of six stations on the Thomson-East Coast Line that began operating in August last year. PHOTO: ST FILE

The last two stages of the TEL, stage 4 and stage 5, comprise a total of 10 stations from Founder’s Memorial to Sungei Bedok. They are expected to open around 2024 and 2025, aside from Founder’s Memorial station which will open in tandem with the actual memorial in 2027.

When the TEL is fully completed, more than 240,000 households will be within a 10-minute walk from a TEL station.

It will also help to relieve crowding on the East-West and North-South Lines.

For Mr Mohammed Sabir Ansari, 27, who lives in Shenton Way, the opening of TEL stage 3 will give him a public transport option that is less than a minute’s walk from his home.

“I’m unbelievably excited,” said the business development director, adding he will likely use the TEL three to four times a week to go to Great World City and Orchard Road in future.

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