Potential delays on North-South Line as 'intensive performance checks' continue: LTA, SMRT

Potential delays on North-South Line as 'intensive performance checks' continue: LTA, SMRT

Crowded train at Bishan NSL
Passengers on a delayed North-South Line train at Bishan MRT station on Jun 1, 2017. (Photo: Lennard Lim)

SINGAPORE: Commuters taking the MRT on the North-South and East-West lines may experience some delay in the coming weeks, as engineers continue to test a new signalling system beyond the June holiday period.

In a joint statement on Tuesday (Jun 27), the Land Transport Authority (LTA) and transport operator SMRT said they have been concurrently running system checks for the North-South Line (NSL) and the Tuas West Extension (TWE) on the East-West Line (EWL) along with Thales, the supplier of the signalling system. 

LTA, SMRT and Thales have been conducting tests on the NSL's signalling system since Mar 28. Tests first started with the last hour of passenger service on selected weekdays, and progressed to full-day trials on weekdays that began on May 29. 

They will continue to "conduct intensive performance checks and deploy new software to improve the system", the press release said.

"During this period, commuters may continue to experience some delay when travelling on NSL, if new issues emerge. We seek your continued understanding and patience, as our team works round the clock to resolve these issues as quickly as possible."

According to the joint statement, the trials so far have allowed engineers to fine-tune the system and rectify teething problems.

For instance, the alignment of train and platform doors at all stations have improved, and train service intervals are better regulated. It added that operations controllers and train captains have also overcome initial issues in using the system, and "significantly reduced" incidents of trains overshooting the platforms.

Full-day trials of the system had resulted in rush-hour delays earlier this month, prompting some commuters to question why tests had to be done during peak hours. 

SMRT had explained that tests must be conducted all day to "accumulate adequate testing hours" to ensure that any teething issues can be sorted out. 

“LTA and SMRT have been working very closely with Thales to identify and resolve issues. Once an issue is identified, a team of engineers analyses it and identifies suitable remedial action such as the implementation of a new software so that the issue can be quickly rectified," said LTA's project director for re-signalling Tan Yih Long on Tuesday. 

A day after SMRT and LTA's announcement, signalling faults hit both the NSL and the EWL. Train service was suspended on the NSL at 5.37pm, about 20 minutes after SMRT said to expect up to half an hour more travelling time due to the fault.

SMRT also announced that there was no train service from Joo Koon to Tuas Link and that free bus services were available.

The NSL is Singapore's oldest MRT line. According to SMRT, the new signalling system will be more efficient than the current system which has been in use since 1987.

TWE, which operates on the new signalling system, opened for service on Jun 18.

Source: CNA/gs