Singapore

Singapore to build train testing centre in Tuas

It will allow new trains to be put through their paces without the risk of disrupting services on operational lines

Singapore will build an integrated train testing centre (ITTC) to put new trains and rail systems through their paces without the risk of disrupting services on operational lines.

To be located on a 5050ha site at the former Raffles Country Club in Tuas - which was acquired last year for the suspended Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High-Speed Rail project - the centre is expected to be the first of its kind in South-east Asia when it is ready around 2022.

Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan announced the centre on a visit to rail operator SMRT's new North-South, East-West lines operations control centre (OCC) in Kim Chuan depot yesterday.

He said the ITTC will be modelled on similar facilities in Germany, South Korea and Japan.

"It will cost us a few hundred million to build," he said. "It is a worthwhile investment."

He explained that the centre will be able to carry out testing "robustly, round the clock", and away from the operational lines.

"This will free up limited engineering hours and reduce the need to close our MRT lines," he noted, referring to the early closures and late openings currently in place.

"This will enhance the service levels provided to commuters."

He added that the ITTC will also be able to handle integrated systems testing across all existing and future MRT lines.

"By providing the local rail industry with a test bed for understanding the intricacies of new rail systems, the ITTC will deepen our railway operations and maintenance expertise," he said, adding that this would enhance rail reliability.

Transport economist Walter Theseira of the Singapore University of Social Sciences said: "Testing is a business. I think it would be good to develop our capacity to do this so that we might be able to provide the service (to other operators) in the region."

Mr Khaw said that when the ITTC is ready by 2022 or so, it will be in time to receive new trains and systems for Circle Line 6 for testing.

"By that time, the North- South and East-West lines will be completely renewed too," he said, referring to the upgrading of power systems, trains and track circuits on the two oldest lines.

In earlier estimates, these three renewal projects were slated to be completed by 2024.

Three earlier major asset renewal projects have been completed, namely resignalling, sleeper and power rail replacements. As a result, the two lines have become less prone to breakdowns, although train speeds have not yet returned to pre-2011 levels.

Transport