SINGAPORE: The North East Line (NEL) will undergo major enhancement and renewal works which will start in 2019.
"The upgrading of trains is the first major step in this multi-year endeavour," said the Land Transport Authority (LTA) and SBS Transit in a joint news release on Monday (Dec 17).
They added that upgrading work includes installing a new condition monitoring system to track train performance more closely, upgrading the trains’ air-conditioning, replacing interior fittings such as seats and flooring, as well as detailed inspections of all mechanical and electrical systems.
A contract worth about S$116.7 million has been awarded to CRRC Nanjing Puzhen for the "mid-life" upgrading of all 25 NEL trains.
The 15-year-old North East Line is the third-oldest MRT line in Singapore.
"The former SMRT management under-invested in the North-South Line and East-West Line (NSEWL) and they did the minimum when NSEWL needed upgrading," said Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan on Monday.
"The cumulative effects of their decisions in those years were only corrected in recent years at great inconvenience to commuters," he added.
"We have learnt this hard lesson and we are determined not to have it repeated. And that’s why North East Line will be undergoing major enhancement and renewal works."
To facilitate upgrading work, there will be early station closures starting next month.
From Jan 4 to Mar 2, Serangoon, Kovan, Hougang, Buangkok, Sengkang and Punggol stations will close earlier at 11pm on Fridays and Saturdays.
Train services for the rest of the NEL, between HarbourFront and Serangoon, will also operate with longer intervals of about nine minutes during the period of early closures.
From Mar 8 to 30, stations between HarbourFront and Dhoby Ghaut will be affected by early closure on Fridays and Saturdays. More details will be announced later, said LTA and SBS Transit.
They added that there will be shuttle bus services for affected commuters.
"To facilitate connectivity, southbound train services from NE12 Serangoon to NE1 HarbourFront will be extended to 12.09am. Light Rail Transit (LRT) services will also be extended to 1.10am in Sengkang and 1.20am in Punggol," said LTA and SBS Transit.
As last train timings may vary for each station, commuters are advised to plan ahead by checking station-specific timings at affected MRT stations, or through SBS Transit's website and social media platforms.