SINGAPORE: Train commuters affected by the recent early closures and late openings of the North-South and East-West Lines (NSEWL), will experience more of such instances this year.
At the Committee of Supply debates in Parliament on Wednesday (Mar 7), Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan announced that extended engineering hours will continue beyond June this year, in order to speed up maintenance works.
To support upcoming rail renewal works and changes in operation hours, more buses will be deployed along affected MRT routes.
"To accelerate the renewal of the ageing assets, we will reinforce our bus network to provide some back-up capacity," said Mr Khaw. "We will be deploying 450 buses to bolster capacity along existing bus routes which support critical stretches of the rail network undergoing renewal."
He added: "These buses were planned to meet growing ridership demand and to replace our ageing bus fleet.
"We are bringing forward their deployment to strengthen the resilience of our public transport network in the interim."
In January, it was announced that all 35 stations along the East-West Line will have shorter operating times in March to free up more hours for maintenance and repair works.
Rail operating times were first shortened last December, where sections of the North-South Line and East-West Line were fully shut on two Sundays. That was followed by the full closure of 10 stations on two days in January.
Two weekdays during the upcoming week-long March school holidays – Mar 12 and Mar 14 – will see the entire line shut down at 10.30pm.
MAINTENANCE WORKS UPDATE
The additional engineering hours has led to SMRT doubling its progress of preventive maintenance and repairs, Mr Khaw said.
"Extended engineering hours have been very useful to our engineering team. They allow us to speed up the renewal of ageing assets, as well as the installation of noise barriers around the island," he said. "For residents living next to MRT tracks, this is a welcome development."
He added: "Extended engineering hours have also allowed us to step up preventive maintenance and repairs."
The overhaul of the 100km NSEWL network is expected to be completed by early 2020.
With the extended hours, the sleeper and power rail replacements have completed, together with re-signalling works for the North-South Line.
Power supply system works and track circuit system replacement works are ongoing, while 66 first-generation NSEWL trains are slated to be replaced.
A RELIABLE PUBLIC TRANSPORT SYSTEM
Explaining the reasons behind major upgrades to land transport in the coming years, Mr Khaw said that the eventual aim is to make public transport the preferred choice – by making it extensive, affordable, reliable and seamless.
"Our approach is to make public transport the preferred mode of transport within Singapore. This is work in progress," he said. "There will be growing pains, but I am confident we will get there.
"Our target is to have 75 per cent of all peak-hour journeys made on public transport by 2030," added Mr Khaw. "We are on track to achieve this target."