Train services more reliable in Q1, says LTA
SINGAPORE: Train services in Singapore were more reliable in the first three months of this year, according to latest statistics released by the Land Transport Authority (LTA) on Wednesday (May 24).
In the first quarter, trains travelled an average of 354,000km before encountering a delay of more than five minutes. This is more than double the figure for 2016, which saw trains clocking an average 174,000km, the figures showed.
The first-quarter performance has surpassed the 300,000-km target set by Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan for 2017 earlier this year and the goal is to reach 400,000km in 2018.
Speaking to the media, LTA’s deputy chief executive for infrastructure and development Chua Chong Kheng said the next step will be to “sustain the effort” for the rest of the year and “try to do even better”.
Improvements were seen across all five lines, with the Downtown Line clocking the highest mileage before a delay, at 1.03 million km. By contrast, the worst performing line was the East-West Line, although its record improved by close to 50 per cent - from travelling 145,000km between delays in 2016, to 215,000km in the first quarter of this year.
The number of major delays lasting more than 30 minutes has also fallen.
In the first quarter, there was only one such delay recorded on the entire network, compared to an average of four major disruptions per quarter in 2016. It was reported on Mar 30 that a power fault caused a train to stall on the East-West line, resulting in a major delay during the evening peak hour.
NSL SIGNALLING TRIAL TO ENTER FINAL PHASES
LTA said a major contributor to the improvements is the progress made in renewing its network, especially on the older North-South and East-West lines.
Trials of a new signalling system on the North-South line, which will eventually allow trains to run at shorter intervals of 100 seconds instead of 120 seconds, will enter one of its final phases from the week of May 29. The system will start being tested on selected weekdays using the full fleet of 124 trains.
Such trials had started on Mar 28, with the system being switched over to the new signalling system during the last hour of passenger service on certain days.
It involved 30 trains initially, but was increased to 55 after trials moved to Sundays from Apr 16.
In addition to the trials on Sundays, LTA said it feels ready to begin trials on weekdays which would be the “real test” of the system. It noted such tests have been useful in helping it and operator SMRT identify and resolve teething problems.
Some issues encountered included the platform screen doors not opening and trains overshooting their station.
Mr Chua said while the contractor is doing a “good job” in finetuning the system, one of the challenges is that the North-South and East-West lines have a section which is above ground.
“Once you have above-ground stations and when it comes to rainy days, you'll have a wet track, and you’ll have a wet rail,” said Mr Chua. “So we have to find ways for the contractor to adjust the brake rates when it rains so that the stopping accuracy can be improved.”
Mr Chua added that it is still committed to rolling out the new signalling system by this year.
“We need not wait until 100 per cent resolution of all problems because there will always be some things that need to be improved, but over time this will be done,” said Mr Chua.
LTA noted overseas operators who have also upgraded their signalling systems said the new system could take four to six months to stabilise after being rolled out.
OTHER UPGRADING WORKS ON TRACK
The agency also provided an update on its other upgrading projects. For instance, work to replace the power supplying third rail system on the North-South and East-West lines are set to be completed over the next month.
Two tenders have also been called by LTA to renew the power supply system serving the North-South and East-West lines.
This will come with condition monitoring tools, which will allow for better detection and identification of faults.
LTA said the tender is expected to be awarded by the end of this year or early next year. However, the project could take around five years to complete as it is a “major undertaking”.
A tender has also been called to replace the 66 first-generation trains on the North-South and East-West lines. These will have sensors to monitor the performance of the train systems and track conditions.
Imaging sensors and laser scanners will also be installed below the train’s carriages to monitor track conditions, which will allow faults to be detected and addressed earlier, it added.