SINGAPORE: More than 700 bus drivers have been activated on the first full-day closure of 19 stations on the North-South and East-West Lines on Sunday (Dec 10).
They are operating around 350 shuttle buses plying four routes. The routes follow the ones that MRT trains travel along. Four hundred crowd marshals have also been deployed to guide commuters and are working over the entire day at the affected stations in a shift pattern. The operations are also supported by Transcom and the police force.
Director of operations support and resource management for buses at SMRT Vincent Gay said at a media briefing on Sunday that the effort is supported by the Land Transport Authority (LTA) as well as bus operators SBS Transit, Tower Transit and Go Ahead.
Giving reporters a behind the scenes look at works during the full station closure, he also acknowledged commuter feedback on long walking distances to shuttle bus pick up points.
For example at Jurong East, there are three pick up points - inside the station, outside the station and across the street. He said these are separated to avoid congestion.
Noting that the bus network can never replace trains in terms of speed, Mr Gay said commuters are therefore advised to plan their travel.
The full-day closure at the 19 train stations today and shorter operating hours over the past two days is to allow for more track access time for engineering staff to carry out planned maintenance and renewal works.
Another full-day closure has been scheduled for Dec 17.
THREE MAIN GROUPS
Maintenance and renewal works are carried out by three main groups. These are the Building and Facility group which takes care of things like ventilation, platform screen doors and escalators, the Signal and Communications group which manages signalling equipment across the network, and the Permanent Way Team which looks after tracks.
Of the groups, there are about 40 teams under them with about two to four people in each team, and they are spread out across the 19 stations.
One of the jobs is the replacement of track circuits, which is being carried out alongside the resignalling project. Last month’s train collision at Joo Koon MRT station was caused by a compatibility issue between the old and new signalling system.
SMRT said there are about 1,300 track circuits in the North-South and East-West Lines and they will all be replaced. Principal fellow for signalling and communication at SMRT Trains Keith Lim, said there are currently two teams which are working to replace three track circuits during the 5.5 hours they are allocated during the closure.
Normally, it takes two to three nights during regular maintenance hours to replace just one. About 40 track circuits have been replaced.
Meanwhile, Director of building and facilities at SMRT Trains Siu Yow Wee said about 160 SMRT workers are involved in the maintenance of station facilities on Sunday, adding that some of these works require track access to carry out.
He said the station closure would help to speed up the maintenance work.