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Shorter travel time on North-South Line by November: SMRT

Transport operator says replacement of timber sleepers "progressing well", and with completion of works by early 2015, it is "confident" of removing sleeper replacement-related speed restrictions by mid-2015.

SINGAPORE: Commuters can expect a shorter travelling time on the North-South Line from October or November this year, as speed restrictions due to the sleeper replacement works are gradually lifted, said SMRT.

Mr Lee Ling Wee, Managing Director of SMRT Trains, said on the company's Facebook page that replacement of timber sleepers is "progressing well" along the northern portions of the North-South Line, particularly the stretches between Bishan and Woodlands. Almost 50 per cent of sleepers on the line have already been replaced, he added.

Sleepers are the beams that support the rails, providing a firm and stable support for the rail line. When new sleepers are fitted, they need a period of time to settle on the ballast, or stones, on which the tracks are laid, he wrote.

"This explains why we have to impose speed restrictions at certain stretches of the tracks for trains travelling between Bishan and Woodlands. At these stretches, trains slow to around 40 kilometres per hour (km/h), compared to the normal speed of around 78 km/h," Mr Lee said.

As works progresses, SMRT will gradually lift the associated speed restrictions, and the effect of journey time "should be felt from October or November" onwards.

He added: "With the completion of resleepering work on the North South Line by early 2015, we are confident of completely removing all resleepering-related speed restrictions by the middle of next year."

There are also other reasons for trains to slow down, such as if there is a train ahead that have yet to depart the station. Delays can also happen when commuters crowd the doorway and prevent the train doors from closing, he added.