SINGAPORE: Work to upgrade escalators at 42 MRT stations along the North-South and East-West Lines got off to a slow start, with about one-quarter of the project completed so far, said SMRT on Wednesday (May 15).
The five-year refurbishment project, which started in August 2016, involves the upgrading of 233 escalators.
A total of 54 have been fully refurbished, and work on another 21 escalators is in progress.
"Most of the refurbishment works will be completed by end 2021, while some may be completed beyond that date," said SMRT.
This is the first major refurbishment of escalators since MRT began operations in 1987. New safety features to be put in place include handrail speed monitoring and skirt deflectors, as well as directional traffic lights and dual-speed functionality.
The upgrading work started with four pilot stations - Ang Mo Kio, Tanah Merah, Tiong Bahru and Tanjong Pagar - and took about eight months to complete.
"Progress was slow in the first year of the project as Otis had to develop a customised refurbishment plan," said SMRT, referring to the company that was awarded the project.
In "straightforward" cases, it takes about four months to refurbish an escalator, said SMRT. It may, however, take longer if additional issues are discovered after an escalator is completely dismantled.
"Escalator refurbishment involves the removal, installation and replacement of more than 1,000 parts and major components," the transport operator explained. "Lessons learnt in the initial phase have allowed us to speed up the remaining refurbishment works."
Vice president of SMRT's building and facilities team Siu Yow Wee said: "Together with Otis, we are doing our best to minimise inconvenience to commuters as we upgrade our escalators.
"At any one time, work will be carried out on one escalator per station except for the bigger stations with more escalators.”