The Bukit Panjang Light Rail Transit (BPLRT) network will be given a $344 million overhaul and residents can look forward to smoother, “more reliable rides” from 2022, said Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan in Parliament on Wednesday (7 March).
“The (BPLRT) is reaching the end of its useful life and after evaluating all possible options, the Land Transport Authority (LTA), has decided to work with the original equipment supplier, Bombardier, to renew the entire network,” said the 65-year-old Sembawang GRC Member of Parliament during his ministry’s Committee of Supply debate.
In a related news release, the LTA said the decision to go with Bombardier was based on the latter’s familiarity with the current system and the experience it has built up from the ongoing reliability improvement works carried out since 2016.
Among the planned works will be the replacement of the BPLRT network’s existing signalling system; the replacement of 19 Light Rail Vehicles (LRVs) 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.
The LTA added that BPLRT commuters will be able to experience “improved reliability and a smoother travel experience” from 2022, once the new signalling system is fully rolled out and the new LRVs are deployed. Other renewal works will be completed by 2024.
To minimise disruption to commuters, most works will be conducted during engineering hours – although these may be extended when required, said LTA.
“Residents may experience some noise and dust during the renewal works. LTA will work with Bombardier to minimise these inconveniences, and we seek residents’ understanding as we strive to improve the BPLRT system,” added the authority.
Khaw said that a new service support arrangement will also be tried out, whereby SMRT will “engage Bombardier through a long-term contract for spares, for training and for technical expertise”.
In order to provide more space for renewal works, Service C – which currently links the BPLRT to the Junction 10 mall – will cease operations permanently from the fourth quarter of this year, said the LTA.
Khaw said in September 2017 that the BPLRT was built as an “after-thought” due to “political pressure”. He was also quoted in media reports as saying that travelling on the BPLRT is akin to riding a “roller-coaster” and that the LRT was designed in a “masochistic manner”.
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