SINGAPORE: More engineering hours will be required to maintain ageing rail equipment, said Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan.
This can only come “if we reduce train operating hours,” he said on Monday (Nov 13).
Mr Khaw was speaking at the Future Railway Technology for Depot and Trains, held at SMRT’s Tuas West Depot.
“Power supply is one of the six key ageing assets of the North-South and East-West Lines which we need to renew. We have only done two (sleepers, third rail), four more to go (signalling, power supply, trains, track circuits). That is why we need more engineering hours. This can only come if we reduce train operating hours.”
Mr Khaw said the recent completion of the Tuas Depot has made it possible for the North-South Line and the East-West Line to each have its own dedicated major maintenance facility.
The depot comes with a new power substation, which increased the network power capacity by 50 per cent.
“Until now, the North-South and East-West Lines were drawing power from four 66kV substations, at Buona Vista, Bishan, Stamford and Yasin. Peak hour power load was about 80 per cent of the network capacity and was anticipated to increase by a further 25 per cent with the opening of the Tuas West Extension and completion of re-signalling works, thus requiring us to tap into the backup reserves. We were cutting it real close. And the need to reduce crowdedness in trains forced us to add new trains, further pushing the limits on our power capacity,” Mr Khaw explained.
“In a way, Tuas Depot is 30 years’ late, but better late than never!"
The minister said he has urged the Land Transport Authority (LTA) to push for a qualitative upgrade for the train depots.
“Technology has moved ahead. Maintenance approach has moved from preventive to predictive. We need to invest in technology to exploit predictive maintenance, and to build up capabilities to do so.”
Some of these included an Automatic Vehicle Inspection (AVI) System which will be progressively installed in the existing depots.
Mr Khaw said a depot will be built in Mandai for the Thomson-East Coast Line.