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Better train service soon as sleeper replacement works near completion: Lui

Commuters will start to see shorter travel time from as early as October this year, Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew says.

SINGAPORE: With the sleeper replacement works on the North-South Line on track and set to be completed by the middle of next year, commuters will begin to see an improvement in their journey speeds from the fourth quarter of this year, said Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew early Tuesday morning (July 1).

The completion of works on the North-South Line will bring the speed of the trains back to what it was in the past when the MRT system first started operating, with speeds at about 80km/h, said Mr Lui.

 “I think from around the fourth quarter of this year we will see a gradual decrease in the time taken to do the end to end run, meaning that I think commuters will find that their journeys to their respective destinations are a bit shorter than what it is today,” he said.

He was speaking to reporters after making an early morning visit along the tracks near Bishan depot to view the sleeper replacement works. Works are limited to a few hours before train service resumes, and involve workers manually digging up ballast – rocks packed between the sleepers – and removing the timber sleepers, followed by installation of concrete sleepers and reinstatement works to ensure the track is aligned and trains can run smoothly.

About 33 per cent, or 30,000 sleepers, on the North-South Line have been replaced since November 2012. This is about 17 per cent of the 188,000 wooden sleepers on the North-South and East-West Line that has to be replaced. More than 300 concrete sleepers are installed every night, with 600 workers deployed.

Mr Lui also acknowledged the hard work of the people involved in the project, adding that the foreign workers doing the manual labour have been doing a good job.

He added that residents and commuters have been very tolerant and had borne the inconvenience – such as the noise and early closure of MRT stations – well. Mr Lui also said he has asked SMRT if it would be possible to organise visits of sleeper replacement works for the public, so that they can have an idea of what goes on every night.

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