SINGAPORE: A new integrated train testing centre (ITTC) will soon be built at the former Raffles Country Club site to test rail systems around the clock without disrupting passenger services on the main lines.
Taking up a space of 50 ha, the centre in Tuas is expected "to enhance rail reliability, while freeing up limited engineering hours and reducing the need for line closures", said the Land Transport Authority (LTA) on Wednesday (Apr 24).
Equipped to test trains and other core railways systems such as electrical, mechanical and signalling systems, the centre is similar to facilities in countries such as Germany, Korea and Japan, said LTA.
The ITTC will also act as a hub for LTA and the local rail industry "to develop deeper operations and maintenance competencies and achieve engineering excellence," said the authority in the media release.
For example, rail workers can attend training where they will have a first-hand understanding of the intricacies of new rail systems before they are deployed.
The centre, with its rolling stock facility, will be able to carry out mid-life training refurbishment projects, said LTA.
It will also serve as a testing ground for the rail industry to evaluate new railway infrastructure, develop proofs-of-concept, as well as conduct research and development into railway technologies.
Minister for Transport Khaw Boon Wan called the move to build the ITTC an "important decision".
"It's an important decision because part of the lessons we learnt when we re-signalled the North-South and subsequent East-West lines was the importance of having testing centres like that," Mr Khaw said.
Without such centres as the ITTC, testing would be reliant on the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) and the manufacturer's testing centre, which is usually in a foreign country, he said.
"To have an on-site testing centre, there are many benefits. Otherwise you are forced to test a new system on a live system with all its attendant risks.
"Or if you dare not do that, then you do it during engineering hours, but then you are fighting for time for that three to four hours a day," he said.
CONSTRUCTION TO START MID-2020
Construction of the ITTC is expected to start mid-2020, and the centre will start receiving trains for Circle Line 6 by the end-2022.
LTA's deputy chief executive Mr Chua Chong Kheng said the ITTC will allow "for robust testing of our trains and integrated systems before they are deployed on operational lines".
"This approach frees up precious engineering hours for other activities, such as railway maintenance, and reduces the need for future early closures and late openings," he said.
"In addition, LTA will be able to speed up the diagnosis and rectification of faults with the ITTC, as troubleshooting can now be done locally.”
LTA said it will call a contract to design and build the centre over the next few months.
"This will comprise an endurance loop test track, a performance and integration loop test track, a straight high-speed test track and other supporting track facilities."
It added that facilities such as offices, an operations control centre, a maintenance workshop and a refurbishment workshop will also be included in the scope of work.
ONE CENTRE TO HOUSE ALL SMRT TRANSPORT NETWORK OPERATIONS
Mr Khaw also officially opened an SMRT facility on Wednesday to house all its key transport network operations.
In the event of incidents, the Rail Operations Centre at Kim Chuan Depot will coordinate contingency and recovery operations, among other efforts.
The centre comprises the operations control centres (OCC) for the North-South, East-West and Circle lines. The operations control centre for the North-South and East-West lines was relocated to this premise from Victoria Street.
"This facilitates better integration of space, resources and facilities between the two OCCs," SMRT said in a news release.
"The relocation is a step towards a vision of an integrated Rail Operations Centre," SMRT Corporation Group CEO Neo Kian Hong said.
"This will optimise our resources, leverage technology and improve command and control to achieve higher standards of safety and reliability.
It will also "achieve a higher level of situational awareness and coordination," Mr Neo added.
The Rail Operations Centre will later this year include the Maintenance Operations Centre currently at Bishan Depot. This will coordinate "quicker recovery of faults and incidents in trains and on tracks during revenue hours", Mr Neo said.
In January 2017, the Government announced that it would acquire the Raffles Country Club site for the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High-Speed Rail project. The rail project has since been postponed until end-May 2020.