Decade-long upgrading works on North-South and East-West MRT lines to end in 2023

SINGAPORE – A decade-long upgrade to the 35-year-old North-South and East-West MRT lines is expected to be completed in 2023.

Work to refresh Singapore’s first MRT lines started in 2012, said Transport Minister S. Iswaran, who gave the update on Wednesday at a ground-breaking ceremony for the construction of the Cross Island Line.

Upgrades have been completed in three out of six core areas on the two lines.

These are the signalling system, which allows trains to run more closely to one another, cutting waiting times; sleepers, or support for the tracks; and the third-rail system, which is the part of the track that supplies power to the trains.

Work on the power system, the track circuit and the trains is still being carried out, said Mr Iswaran.

More than 80 per cent of the power supply system serving the 27 stations on the North-South Line and the 35 stations on the East-West Line has already been updated. This includes replacing 1,050km of cables and equipment.

So far, more than 1,000 track circuits – about 93 per cent of the total figure – have been changed, said Mr Iswaran.

Track circuits are part of the signalling system. They relay signals to the operations control centre to monitor the speed, location and identity of the trains on the network.

The new system will be able to identify potential faults before they happen.

The 106 new trains ordered in 2018 to replace the existing ones on the North-South and East-West lines are in the last phase of testing before they are deployed.

The North-South Line is Singapore’s first MRT line. It started operations in November 1987 to connect Yio Chu Kang and Toa Payoh.

The East-West Line started in December 1987 as part of the North-South Line, connecting City Hall and Outram stations. By 1990, the East-West Line had grown to reach Boon Lay station in the west.

In February 2002, the Changi Airport MRT extension was added.

The Tuas West Extension entered service in June 2017 with four new stations that improved accessibility and connectivity for those working in the area.

Today, the East-West Line, at 57km, is the longest train line in operation, with a mix of underground and above-ground stations. The line is operated by SMRT Corp.

The MRT network currently comprises six MRT lines with more than 140 stations.

Over the next decade, the rail network is set to grow by 100km. This will include the Jurong Region Line and the Cross Island Line.

By that stage, it is projected that eight in 10 households will live within a 10-minute walk from a train station.


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