Khaw Boon Wan shares 'good news', 'bad news' on MRT re-signalling works

Dhany Osman
Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan addresses reporters at a media briefing on 16 October 2017. (Yahoo News Singapore file photo)
Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan addresses reporters at a media briefing on 16 October 2017. (Yahoo News Singapore file photo)

The newly installed signalling system along the MRT network’s North-South Line (NSL) has “finally stabilised” and the overall network has been performing beyond expectations, said Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan in Parliament on Wednesday (7 March).

“In fact, the (NSL) should cross its 150th consecutive day of no disruptions today,” said the Sembawang GRC Member of Parliament during his ministry’s Committee of Supply debate on Budget 2018, noting that this was the “good news”.

“The bad news is that we will soon start testing the new signalling system on the East-West Line (EWL), with passengers,” he added, stating that the testing thus far has been done after operating hours.

Citing a “painful 2017”, Khaw noted that, over January and February, service along the entire MRT network has already exceeded his end-2019 Mean Kilometre Between Failure (MKBF) target of 600,000 train kilometres. The MKBF is a measure of the average number of kilometres that trains on a network travel before a delay of more than five minutes.

As of January, works on the EWL are more than 90 per cent completed, with the rest of the works targeted for completion by June, said Land Transport Authority and SMRT in a related press release.

“Extended engineering hours will continue beyond June 2018 as we continue to renew the (North-South and East-West lines’) critical rail systems. Parallel shuttle buses will be provided between affected MRT stations,” said the release.

Last year, stress testing of the NSL’s new signalling system also led to numerous disruptions and left many commuters venting their frustrations over social media.

On 15 November 2017, a software glitch along the EWL caused a stationary train at Joo Koon station to be hit by the train behind it. At the time, the EWL was still transitioning from the older signalling system to the new one.

Referring to the upcoming EWL signalling system testing, Khaw said, “Do expect glitches and delays. So please bear with us.”

He added that he would be spending “many days and nights” briefing the Members of Parliament of the wards along the affected EWL stretch on what to expect with the re-signalling works, especially in light of the “unpleasant experience of the (NSL)”.

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