SINGAPORE: The upgrading of the Bukit Panjang LRT (BPLRT) is expected to be completed in 2026, Transport Minister S Iswaran said in a written parliamentary answer on Monday (Nov 28).
This was in response to a question by MP Liang Eng Hwa (PAP-Bukit Panjang) about the progress of the upgrading works on the BPLRT system.
The Land Transport Authority (LTA) previously said the renewal was on track for completion by 2024.
Mr Iswaran said that progress has been made, with part of the backend signalling system having already been upgraded.
However, he said that the project has faced "several challenges since 2020" due to the impact of COVID-19.
These include manpower shortage, slower progress due to the lockdown of cities in China where train manufacturing works are undertaken, and supply chain disruptions, Mr Iswaran said.
LTA awarded a S$344 million contract to Bombardier Singapore in 2018 for the BPLRT system renewal. The renewal covers the upgrading of multiple systems on a live line.
This includes renewing the entire signalling and power rail system, adding 19 new trains, upgrading another 13 trains from the existing fleet, and equipping the system with condition monitoring capabilities, said Mr Iswaran.
Mr Liang also asked when the system will revert to a dual loop service.
In his reply, Mr Iswaran said that Bukit Panjang LRT "continues to offer full dual loop services during peak hours".
"However, to reduce the strain on our ageing BPLRT systems before the renewals are completed, BPLRT will continue to operate in a single loop during off-peak hours when ridership is lower."
Since December 2019, the LRT has operated on one counter-clockwise loop via Petir Station during off-peak hours. LTA said then that the decision will "better match supply with demand, without affecting service to commuters".
Mr Iswaran also said there are more than 10 bus services operating within Choa Chu Kang and Bukit Panjang that will mitigate the impact residents face.
Five of the bus services run parallel to stretches of the BPLRT, he added.