SINGAPORE: The ongoing renewal of the North-South and East-West MRT lines (NSEWL) is expected to cost more than S$2.5 billion, with completion likely to be completed in the next few years.
Providing an update on the NSEWL Power System Renewal Project, Minister for Transport Khaw Boon Wan said on Thursday (Jan 2) that the multi-year programme to increase train reliability on the NSEWL - Singapore’s oldest, longest and most heavily utilised line - was half completed, with three projects completed and another three to go.
MOST COMPLEX PROJECT
The "most complex" of the remaining projects is the upgrading of the power supply system, which is almost 40 per cent complete, said Mr Khaw. The S$500 million upgrading began in October 2018 and is expected to be completed by 2023.
The other two outstanding projects are the replacement of the track circuit system and the deployment of new trains.
The first phase of the projects replaced the sleepers on the two lines in 2016 and the third rail in 2017 and the signalling system in 2018.
During a visit to the Bukit Batok MRT station on the North-South Line, Mr Khaw said that the upgrading of the power supply system includes replacing about 1,300km of power cables, 250km of fibre optic cables, 172 switchboards and equipment in 171 substations.
The Land Transport Authority (LTA) noted that as of December last year, more than 110km of power cables have been installed, while the older 64P touch voltage protection system has been replaced with voltage limiting devices that help isolate power faults and prevent disruptions that could affect the entire rail line.
“Once completed around 2023, the new power supply system will be equipped with enhanced features for real-time condition monitoring,” said the LTA.
“This will enable improved fault detection and prediction capabilities, and allow the rail operator to carry out early intervention works before a fault can develop or worsen.”
TRACK CIRCUIT SYSTEM, NEW TRAINS
Of the remaining two asset renewal projects, the S$73 million replacement of the track circuit system is about a quarter done and is expected to be completed by 2022.
Track circuits along a 12-station stretch of the North-South Line, between the Bukit Batok and Khatib stations, have been fully replaced, said the LTA.
“The new track circuit system will be able to automatically detect broken rails that require repairs, and speed up service recovery efforts following a track circuit fault,” added the LTA in a release.
Meanwhile, the S$1.2 billion replacement of 66 first-generation trains by Canadian manufacturer Bombardier is on track, with the new trains set to roll out progressively from next year.
Mr Khaw, who is also Coordinating Minister for Infrastructure, noted that spending on MRT lines will peak over the next two terms of Government, with the LTA working to concurrently complete a number of projects.
These include the Thomson-East Coast Line, the Jurong Region Line, the Cross-Island Line and the 4km extension of the Circle Line.
2019 was a “very good year” for land transport in Singapore, said Mr Khaw, noting improved ratings in the annual Public Transport Customer Satisfaction Survey as well as improved rail reliability figures.
The North-South Line clocked 1.43 million km between delays of more than five minutes between October 2018 and September last year, up from 894,000 km in 2018.
Meanwhile, the East-West Line hit 1.04 million km between delays over the same period, an increase from 408,000 km in 2018.
Said Mr Khaw: “LTA will continue to maintain good oversight and steer the development of the MRT system as the backbone of our public transport system, an important public good which Singaporeans from all walks of life can enjoy.”
Editor's note: An earlier version of this story stated that the upgrading would cost S$900 million. This has been updated to S$500 million following clarification from the Land Transport Authority.