SINGAPORE: The first of 57 new trains fitted with an upgraded signalling system made its debut on the North-South Line (NSL) on Sunday (Apr 16) morning, as part of a two-month trial conducted by rail operator SMRT.
Besides the new signaling system, the new trains are also fitted out with several new features.
These include LCD display panels that provide information on landmarks and places of interest near the various MRT stations, LED lighting, which has been said to be more energy efficient than the usual fluorescent lighting and marked spaces in the train cars for wheelchair users.
File photo of the LCD display in the new SMRT train. (Photo: Kenneth Lim)
Sunday's trial also marked the first full day trial since such tests began in March. Trains ran on the new system from the start of the day, compared to just during the final hour of service previously.
During these trials, LTA and SMRT officers track the system's response to different situations and the trains' ability to keep to schedules.
The new signalling system - first announced by SMRT in 2012 to the tune of S$195 million - allows trains to run closer to each other, which in turn shortens the waiting time for trains at stations from the current 120 seconds to 100 seconds.
The Land Transport Authority (LTA) has previously said this could improve peak hour capacity by up to 20 per cent.
But there has been a speed bump. The launch of the new system was delayed from 2016 to 2017, because of the need to conduct “more extensive reliability tests”, LTA said.
These tests include safety and system checks, such as ensuring train doors and platform screen doors are aligned when a train stops.
Authorities say that all 57 trains are expected to be in service on the North-South and East-West Lines by 2019. Together with the 42 trains added to the North-East Line and Circle Line fleets in 2016, this will bring the total fleet size from 141 to 198.