Singapore

Experts: LRT's trains and signals need upgrades

With the problematic Bukit Panjang LRT system set for a major overhaul, engineering experts The Straits Times spoke to said the parts in the most critical need of an upgrade are the trains and signalling system.

Having endured numerous breakdowns since the LRT opened 18 years ago - including 10 in 2015 - commuters said they welcomed the planned upgrade.

SMRT, which operates the LRT, has said that the current system is more suited for short distances on flat terrain, rather than gradients - which it passes through in the Bukit Panjang area now.

The Transport Ministry announced during its Budget debate last Wednesday that it would call for a tender to upgrade the LRT's trains, power rail, signalling system and other critical components.

Singapore Institute of Technology Assistant Professor Zhou Yi said that short of building new rail tracks, redesigning the signalling system might help solve problems. He said: "A more precise signalling system will provide greater flexibility and control of the speed when tackling the slopes."

National University of Singapore Assistant Professor Raymond Ong said that deploying self-powered trains could address the gradient issue.

Instead of relying on a network - as is the case now - such trains would be able to "draw their own additional power needed to clear the gradients easily".

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