SINGAPORE: While the upcoming replacement of LRT vehicles and renewal of signalling systems on the Bukit Panjang LRT line will not address bumpiness issues, the proposed renewal works will still improve passenger service, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) has said.
Fixing the bumpiness, which has long been a bugbear of commuters, would require tearing down and rebuilding the tracks - which means the line needs to be shut down for a long period, LTA said.
“The electrical and mechanical issues from the train are something we know from the past few years of disruption issues and we want to tackle these head on,” said LTA chief executive Ngien Hoon Ping, on the sidelines of a signing ceremony for the Bukit Panjang LRT renewal with manufacturer Bombardier on Friday (Mar 23).
The replacement of 19 LRT vehicles with new ones that have better air-conditioning, as well as installing of the new Communications-Based Train Control (CBTC) signalling system, is aimed at improving ride experience, while addressing disruption issues faced in the past.
RENEWING WITH LEAST DISRUPTION
Aware of bumpiness issues faced by commuters, Mr Ngien said that those can only be fixed by closing the line for an extended period - a "disruptive" option that he said was off the table.
“We cannot solve all the issues by tearing down and rebuilding our tracks, which will take many years, but at least, in terms of ride experience you can feel the difference with the renewal works,” he said.
For the renewal works on the Bukit Panjang LRT, one of the LTA’s main requirements was that it must not require the full shutdown of the line – a criterion which was met by Bombardier’s proposal.
“We had also taken into consideration things like redesigning the viaduct structure. That can only happen with massive disruption, which means you have to shut down a large portion, if not, the whole system,” said Mr Ngien.
“(Our decision) was analysed as the best move forward, given the need to keep services running while improving the system.”
MORE RELIABLE TRAIN MOTORS
The newer LRT vehicles will have AC motors, which are said to be more reliable than the existing DC ones.
Major sub-systems will also be renewed which allows for predictive maintenance.
On-site installation works will begin in the second quarter of next year, while all of the new LRT vehicles will enter full service by the end of 2022.
Works on the power rail will only be complete by 2024, when the old track circuit system will be decommissioned.
Prior to the renewal works, the Bukit Panjang LRT line will be closed every Sunday from Apr 15 to Jun 24 this year for additional planned maintenance.
Thirty shuttle buses will be deployed as an alternative travel option.
The LTA also announced a new bus service – Service 974 – which will ply between Bukit Panjang MRT Station and Joo Koon Bus Interchange via Choa Chu Kang and Jurong West.