To carry out maintenance work, the Bukit Panjang Light Rail Transit (BPLRT) will be closed every Sunday from 15 April to 24 June, said SMRT on Friday (23 March).
The announcement comes a day after the rail operator announced that all 35 MRT stations on the East-West Line will continue to close earlier and open later during weekends in April.
During the BPLRT’s closure on the 11 Sundays, shuttle buses which run parallel to the network will be available for commuters. SMRT added that more information on these services will be announced soon.
As part of “preventive maintenance for the ageing system”, the work will include the replacement of sections of the power rails to improve the robustness of the current power rail system, and the replacement of track switch components which control train movement along the tracks.
The rail operator will also step up on-going replacement of parts of the doors and propulsion systems on LRT trains when services are not running on Sundays.
Roger Lim, Vice President for Circle Line and BPLRT, said the BPLRT system is approaching its 20-year mark and renewal works by equipment supplier Bombardier are expected to commence within the first half of this year.
He added that as the BPLRT operates for 20 hours each day, intensive maintenance works – such as the replacement of sections of the power rails – are “not possible” with the short two to three-hour engineering window between services.
“Closing the network on Sundays will improve the productivity of our maintenance teams, and allow these works to be completed sooner. We seek commuters’ patience and understanding over the next three months as we strive to improve BPLRT service,” he said.
In a bid to facilitate track maintenance and renewal work, the BPLRT began service at 7am instead of 5.30am every Sunday from 12 November to 31 December last year.
The extra time, said SMRT, allowed the BPLRT maintenance crew to accelerate replacement of ageing rail mounting frames and rail expansion joints as well as complete hot-spot replacement of track switch components.
Earlier in parliament this month, Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan said that the BPLRT network will be given a $344 million overhaul and residents can look forward to smoother, more reliable rides from 2022.
Among the planned works will be the replacement of the BPLRT network’s existing signalling system; the replacement of 19 Light Rail Vehicles (LRV) that have been in use since 1999; and the upgrading of 13 LRVs that were put into service in 2015.
The power rail, which runs the 7.8km of the network, will also be replaced with an enhanced version.