Expect ‘glitches and delays’ on major MRT lines with new signalling system tests: Transport Minister

Extending testing works on the NSEWL to operating hours means glitches and delays might become more common for commuters.
Facebook/ Khaw Boon Wan

Commuters are more likely to encounter hiccups during their train rides on the North-South and East-West Lines (NSEWL) in future but for good reason.

In a Facebook post on Sunday (Mar 11), Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan said plans have been made to extend the testing of the lines’ new signalling system to revenue hours, that is, when passengers are on board.

“Expect glitches and delays. I urge commuters to bear with us and thank them for their patience,” Mr Khaw wrote.

He did not provide information about when the tests would begin and the duration of the testing period.

The announcement came in the wake of the debate on his ministry’s spending plans in Parliament last Wednesday (Mar 7), where he touched upon the signalling system plans for the EWL, reported the Straits Times.

Mr Khaw’s post features photos from his recent trip to rail operator SMRT’s Operation Centre to observe testing of the new systems on both lines.

The NSL is currently running on the upgraded system and had crossed its 150th consecutive day of no disruptions at the time of the debate.

With the system stabilised on the NSL, focus has been shifted to re-signalling works on the EWL, he added.

“Learning from the NSL experience, we are intensifying testing of the system, without passengers. This means doing so during engineering hours. That is why the #ECLO (Early Closure, Late Opening) is so useful to us.”

Mr Khaw noted that with extra engineering hours, engineering staff can spend longer blocks of time working on the tracks.

ECLO will take effect on the entire EWL and tests would no longer be restricted to partial stretches as before.

Under the ECLO plan, EWL stations will open later at 8am and close at 11pm every weekend from March until Apr 1.

EWL stations will also close earlier at 10.30 pm on Monday (Mar 12) and Wednesday (Mar 14).