NSL, EWL re-signalling project complete, new train testing centre to open by 2022: Khaw

Staff members at the new SMRT Rail Operations Centre at Kim Chuan Depot. The centre houses both the Operation Control Centres for the Circle Line and the North-South/East-West Lines. (PHOTO: SMRT)
Staff members at the new SMRT Rail Operations Centre at Kim Chuan Depot. The centre houses both the Operation Control Centres for the Circle Line and the North-South/East-West Lines. (PHOTO: SMRT)

SINGAPORE — As SMRT completes the third of its six renewal projects in re-signalling the North-South and East-West Lines, it is also stepping up the integration of its operations.

Minister for Transport Khaw Boon Wan announced the completion of the re-signalling project on Wednesday (24 April), as he opened the SMRT’s new Rail Operations Centre (ROC) at its Kim Chuan Depot.

At the same time, he also announced that the Land Transport Authority (LTA) will construct an Integrated Train Testing Centre (ITTC) to test trains and other core railway systems for all MRT lines, without affecting passenger services.

The proposed ITTC will be built on about 50ha of the former Raffles Country Club site in Tuas, and is projected to be ready by 2022.

Presently, to test out new railway systems, SMRT has to either close sections of the MRT lines during operating hours, or share night engineering hours with maintenance of the rail lines.

ITTC a worthwhile investment: Khaw

“(The ITTC) will cost us a few hundred million dollars to build, but it is a worthwhile investment as it provides two benefits,” Khaw said in a media conference at the new ROC.

“First, it allows us to test new trains and new rail systems robustly, around the clock, and away from the operational line. This will free up limited engineering hours and reduce the need to close our MRT lines.

“Second, the ITTC will be equipped to handle integrated systems testing across all existing and future MRT lines. By providing the local rail industry with a testbed for understanding the intricacies of new rail systems, the ITTC will deepen our railway operations and maintenance expertise.”

The ITTC will complement the Thales signalling simulation facility at the Bishan Depot to enhance rail reliability and service levels to commuters, Khaw added.

When the ITTC opens in 2022, it will be in time to receive the new trains and systems for the final stage of the Circle Line. At the same time, the six renewal projects for the North-South and East-West Lines would have been completed too.

“The re-signalling project has caused us many sleepless nights. As a result of this hard work, our commuters can now enjoy a much more reliable MRT service,” Khaw said.

“We have three more renewal projects underway – power system, train and track circuits. They are not as complex as re-signalling, but they have their own share of surprises. So please continue to bear with us.”

ROC to house two Operation Control Centres

Wednesday also saw the opening of the integrated ROC, which involved the relocation of SMRT’s Operations Control Centre (OCC) for the North-South and East-West Lines to Kim Chuan Depot after three decades at Victoria Street.

It is now next to the Circle Line’s OCC within the same depot. Later this year, the ROC will also incorporate the Maintenance Operations Centre, which is currently situated at Bishan Depot.

With new features such as the digital Overview Display System, which provides real-time visualisations of track and maintenance activities throughout the network, the ROC will be able to better coordinate emergency situations. These include train or signal breakdowns, and contingency plans such as shuttle bus operations and security efforts.

SMRT Group chief executive officer Neo Kian Hong said, “The integrated ROC will optimise our resources, leverage technology and improve command and control to achieve higher standards of safety and reliability.”

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