SINGAPORE: Live testing of the East-West Line's (EWL) new signalling system will likely take place every day during the June school holidays, said Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan on Friday (May 11).
The new signalling system was fully tested with live passengers across the entire North-South Line (NSL) and EWL over the last two Sundays, and will continue for the next three Sundays, said Mr Khaw at the 6th Joint Forum on Infrastructure Maintenance .
If the tests continue to be uneventful, the system will be tested live every day throughout June, he said.
When fully operational, the new signalling system will allow trains to arrive at shorter intervals of 100 seconds instead of 120 seconds.
Mr Khaw attributed the improved reliability of the NSL and EWL to the early closures and late openings of MRT stations, saying the train network is on track to achieving one million mean kilometres before failure, before 2020.
But he acknowledged the inconvenience this has caused commuters.
"Our response is to make full use of the extended engineering hours to improve train reliability. We owe it to our commuters," Mr Khaw said.
The next project for the NSL and EWL will be the renewal of the power supply system, which will cost nearly S$900 million.
The power supply system renewal will begin later this year, with additional engineering hours from early closures and late openings required to support the project, Mr Khaw said.
He stressed that it must be executed well, as power failure would have a fundamental impact on passenger service.
The project is complex. For instance, temporary mobile substations need to be set up before the new power supply system can be installed and configured, and the necessary re-commissioning test done before changing over to the new power supply, he said.
All these must be completed before passenger service can resume in the morning, he added.
Mr Khaw had also launched Challenge Shield awards for rail workers.
The shield comprises two awards: most reliable MRT line and the most improved MRT line. Each award will come with a modest cash prize to be used for staff welfare and the appreciation of engineering and maintenance crew.
The challenge shield will be awarded next year based on this year's mean kilometres before failure data, which Mr Khaw described as "promising".
Mr Khaw said the awards was a tangible way to remind the industry to place rail reliability foremost in its priorities even after regaining public trust.
According to the data from January to April this year, the Downtown Line has exceeded a million mean kilometres before failure, an international standard for rail reliability.
The NSL's performance during the same period also improved by half a million kilometres.