Why are there all-day tests for the new train signalling system?

We answer your questions on peak hour tests and train service delays.

New signalling system

Have you been affected by a train service delay caused by a signalling fault, and wondered what that was about? Factually explains.

What is this signalling system?

Train signalling systems are used to direct railway traffic while ensuring trains run according to schedule, and keep a safe distance from one another. They are complex systems, similar to the central nervous system in our body, which coordinates our movements.

Why change the system?

The signalling system used on the North-South and East-West Lines is old. It has been in use since 1987 — 30 years ago! That is why we are replacing it with a newer, more technologically advanced and robust system.

How will the new signalling system benefit me as a commuter?

The new signalling system will allow us to run trains closer to each other. A train will arrive every 100 seconds during peak hours, compared to every 120 seconds now.

When the rail lines fully transit to the new signalling system, commuters will experience:

  • Shorter wait times
  • Increased capacity
  • Less crowding
  • A more robust and reliable system.

Overall, our train journeys will be more comfortable.

6 Facts About The New Signalling System

6 facts about the new signalling system on the North-South MRT Line (#NSL) you might not realise.

Posted by Ministry of Transport, Singapore on Monday, August 7, 2017

When will the new signalling system be installed?

The new signalling system has been installed for the North-South Line (NSL). Full-day tests are now being conducted to ensure its efficiency and reliability.

Installation works are still on-going for the East-West Line (EWL), and these are only done at night after passenger service hours.

Why must the new signalling system be tested all day, including during peak hours?

Testing the new signalling system under actual conditions is crucial as it is an iterative process, allowing problems to be surfaced, analysed and fixed quickly. This is unlike new lines where we can extensively test the system before the lines open.

For NSL, however, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) and SMRT did not have the option to suspend it for a few years for testing as many commuters depend on it. To minimise inconvenience to commuters, LTA and SMRT adopted a phased approach. They started testing the new system on NSL in 2016, first during non-passenger service hours, then during off-peak and Sundays, before finally launching full-day weekday runs in May 2017 during passenger service hours.

Tests for the new signalling system on EWL during passenger service hours are expected to commence gradually during the upcoming December school holidays to minimise inconvenience. LTA and SMRT expect the EWL’s transition to the new signalling system to be smoother after valuable lessons from testing it on NSL.

I have been affected by service delays for many weeks. When will the signalling system tests stop?

LTA and SMRT are doing their best. (In cities like London and Taipei, engineers and specialists took many months for their re-signalling projects too).

LTA and SMRT recently introduced a software update for the new signalling system on NSL to address the teething issues. Progress on the NSL thus far has been good and they are confident that the system will stabilise before the end of the year.

Source: Ministry of Transport

This article is accurate as of Aug 2017.

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Unless otherwise indicated, the articles here are generally accurate as of their publication dates. Please visit the relevant Goverment agency website for the latest updates.