Testing of MRT signal system on EWL to extend to normal hours: Khaw

Khaw tells commuters to expect glitches and delays

Testing of the new signalling system on the East-West Line (EWL) - now conducted after MRT services on the line end for the day - will soon be extended to normal operating hours, Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan said yesterday.

This means that commuters should expect "glitches and delays", he said in a Facebook post, adding: "I urge commuters to bear with us and thank them for their patience."

Such testing has already been conducted on the North-South Line (NSL) during normal hours, but the upcoming tests mark the first time it will also be done on the EWL - an indication of the progress of re-signalling works.

The works are due to be completed in June.

Mr Khaw said in his post that transport workers are focusing on the re-signalling of the EWL, now that the new signalling system on the NSL has stabilised.

"Learning from the NSL experience, we are intensifying testing of the system, without passengers," he wrote.

Mr Khaw, during the debate on his ministry's spending plans in Parliament last week, had pointed out the need to start testing the new signalling system of the EWL during passenger service hours.

He had noted this as "bad news", but said the "good news" was that the NSL, which had already started running on the upgraded system, was poised to cross its 150th consecutive day without disruptions.

Testing allows us to calibrate and tune the signalling equipment on each train. That is why re-signalling is so complicated and time consuming Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan

In his Facebook post, Mr Khaw also shared photos of his recent visit to train operator SMRT's Operation Centre, where he observed testing of the new communications-based train control signalling system on the entire North-South and East-West Line network.

The system allows trains to run more frequently, thus increasing capacity and easing congestion.

"Testing allows us to calibrate and tune the signalling equipment on each train. That is why re-signalling is so complicated and time consuming," Mr Khaw explained.

"That is why the #ECLO (Early Closure, Late Opening) is so useful to us," he added, referring to the move since December to shorten operational hours on both the lines on weekends to cater more time for renewal and maintenance work.

This month, stations open later, at 8am, and close early, at 11pm, every weekend.

Today and on Wednesday, during the March school holidays, the EWL stations will close another half an hour earlier, at 10.30pm.

Trains usually run from 5.30am to about midnight daily.