Full-day signalling tests on North-South Line to start on Sunday [TODAY Online]

The new system will be put through its paces during service hours on Sundays.

TODAY Online


After trials during the final hour of train services on nine weeknights went off largely glitch-free, tests on the new signalling system to be used on the North-South Line (NSL) will now be ratcheted up a notch.

The new system, which promises speedier rides, will be put through its paces during service hours on Sundays, starting this week, and involve more trains. The trains will also no longer halt for 10 minutes, as they did during the weeknight trials.

For now, the plan is for these Sunday trials to last two months, said the Land Transport Authority (LTA) and operator SMRT on Wednesday (April 12), without disclosing how long this second delay in the launch would last.

Originally scheduled to be rolled out by the end of last year, the new system needs more testing to ensure its reliability, the authority said previously. At that time, the timeline was extended to the first quarter of this year.

The LTA and SMRT would only say that the trials' results would help them decide when to put the new signalling system in place. Apart from the reliability of the system, the authorities want to monitor its response to various situations and track how train services adhere to schedules - with the Sunday tests involving up to 41 trains, up from more than 30 during the weeknight trials.

Putting the new signalling system through the motions during service hours would take the trial into a real-life environment with commuters on board. The new system will allow trains to run at shorter intervals. During peak hours, commuters can expect to wait up to 100 seconds, instead of 120 seconds now, which would ease congestion and allow swifter commutes.

Equipped with features that provide for greater redundancy in the event of a signal fault, the new system is also expected to improve rail reliability, since critical components are duplicated as back-up. Testing the system progressively will allow issues to be dealt with as they emerge and minimise inconvenience to commuters, the LTA and SMRT said.

Test runs during non-service hours had been conducted since August last year. Last month, the LTA and SMRT began testing during the final hour of train services.

Nine such weeknight trials have been carried out, with the last scheduled test happening tonight (April 13), before the rail operator transitions to the Sunday trials.

Unlike in the existing system, where train captains control the doors manually, doors open and close automatically under the new system.

There were times during the weeknight trials when train doors failed to open and close automatically, owing to a software bug that is being fixed. Train captains had to do so manually, resulting in a delay of several seconds. No other major issues cropped up during the tests.

Meanwhile, the first of 57 new trains that will be added to the North-South and East-West lines, announced previously as part of plans to add capacity to Singapore's oldest MRT lines, will carry its first passengers on the NSL on Sunday.

Fitted with the new signalling system, 45 of these trains have reached Singapore since May 2015 and have undergone rigorous tests.

Source: TODAY Online

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