New MRT signalling system to be trialled on EWL for 5 Sundays from Apr 29

New MRT signalling system to be trialled on EWL for 5 Sundays from Apr 29

The new communications-based train control (CBTC) signalling system will go on trial for five consecutive Sundays starting Apr 29, LTA and SMRT announced on Tuesday (Apr 24). (Photo: Deborah Wong)  

SINGAPORE: The new communications-based train control (CBTC) signalling system will be trialled for five consecutive Sundays from Apr 29 to May 27 on the entire East-West Line (EWL), the Land Transport Authority (LTA) and SMRT said in a joint media release on Tuesday (Apr 24).

The trial means that train services between Gul Circle and Joo Koon will resume, and existing shuttle bus services connecting the two stations will not operate on these dates.

The release added that the upcoming Sunday trials will not affect the EWL’s operating schedule.

“However, commuters may occasionally encounter instances of train and platform doors not opening or closing promptly, trains being held at stations longer than usual, or trains stopping momentarily between stations,” the release said. 

LTA, SMRT and Thales - the French company that supplied the new signalling system for the EWL - will be deploying more staff and engineers on the ground to shorten the response time to any issues that may develop, and provide assistance to commuters.

Authorities are working to commence daily trials of the new CBTC signalling system on the EWL during the school holidays in late May, the release added. 

LTA’s deputy chief executive for infrastructure and development, Mr Chua Chong Kheng stressed that the CBTC signalling system will now be trialled during normal service hours, instead of off-service hours, only after the team was "satisfied with its performance". 

"Trials conducted during service hours are important, as they give us an opportunity to expeditiously identify and resolve issues that may only surface when the system is operating under real-world operational loads,” said Mr Chua. 

Moreover, SMRT's trains' chief engineer for signalling and communications maintenance Chung Swee Hiang said that its engineering team will work closely with the operations team to "quickly rectify" any new faults which were not encountered during off-service trials. 

"We ask for commuters’ patience and understanding, as we work with LTA and Thales to introduce the new signalling system for train services on the EWL gradually, with minimum inconvenience to commuters,” added Mr Chung. 

The latest version of the CBTC signalling software is undergoing testing at the newly opened simulation facility in SMRT’s Bishan depot. 

Khaw Boon Wan CBTC signalling system
Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan visited the CTCB simulation facility at SMRT's Bishan Depot on Tuesday morning (Apr 24). (Photo: Amir Yusof) 

The facility, set up by Thales, is the first of its kind outside Toronto and Paris, where the firm is based.

The facility is equipped with hardware to simulate the reliability and robustness of the new signalling system under different test scenarios.

These include the ability to perform bi-directional operations on the line, which provides more flexibility and recovery for train operations during a disruption.

It was set up five months after a collision between two MRT trains on the EWL at Joo Koon MRT station on Nov 15, which saw 36 passengers and two SMRT staff taken to hospital for injuries.

Following investigations, LTA concluded that a "software logic issue" in the EWL signalling system caused the two trains to collide.

The collision was caused by compatibility issues with the new (CBTC) system between Tuas Link and Pioneer MRT stations and the legacy signalling system, which controls train movements between Pioneer and Pasir Ris stations.

The CBTC facility will be established in two phases. The first will be done by mid-2018 before the CBTC is fully launched on the EWL in June.

The second, to be ready by end-2018, will further strengthen the centre's testing capabilities.

In order to test the new CBTC signalling system and its integration with the North-South Line (NSL), operating hours for all 35 stations on the EWL were shortened on weekends for March and April.

The train services along the line - from Tuas Link to Pasir Ris, and from Tanah Merah to Changi Airport - have been ending earlier and starting later, closing earlier at about 11pm every Friday and Saturday and opening later at about 8am every Saturday and Sunday.

Additional reporting by Deborah Wong 

Source: CNA/nc