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$2.6 billion renewal project of North-South, East-West MRT lines to be mostly completed by Dec 2023

The decade-long project to renew and upgrade the North-South and East-West MRT lines (NSEWL) will be one step closer to completion by this year end.

The renewal works, which began in 2012, consists of six core systems — the sleepers, third rail, signalling system, power supply, track circuits, and train fleet. 

Four of the six core systems have completed its upgrades with the latest being the replacement of the power system, completed in September 2023, The Straits Times reported. 

Speaking at a commemoration ceremony held at Bishan Depot on Wednesday (Oct 25), Acting Transport Minister Chee Hong Tat noted that before the renewal works began, the two oldest lines were operating at about 65,000 mean kilometres before failure (MKBF). But by 2019, both lines have clocked more than 1 million MKBF — signifying "a high level of reliability", said the minister.

MKBF is a measure of rail reliability which refers to the mean kilometres travelled between delays lasting more than five minutes.

The $2.6 billion project has not been an easy task, to which Chee thanked the rail engineers and technicians from LTA and SMRT, "who worked relentlessly every night, for more than ten years".

In his speech, Chee gave mention to several employees of SMRT.

One of them was long-serving staff member Krishnasamy Kotaraju, a power supply engineer who started out as an assistant maintenance engineer working with analog components.

But through continuous education and training, Chee said that Krishnasamy "transitioned to the team that delivered the new power supply system, equipped with real-time condition monitoring capabilities".

The new condition monitoring feature will allow real-time fault detection and prediction so that operators can fix a flaw in a more timely manner, reported The Straits Times.

'Did an excellent job': Chee

The power supply renewal works encompassed the replacement of 1,300km of power cables, 250km of fibre-optic cables, and "hundreds of power transformers and switchboards", which is equivalent to almost six times the length of Singapore's coastline, Chee noted.

LTA senior project manager Mohamad Ridhwan Abdul Lazim, who has been involved in the replacement of train sleepers and third rails on the MRT tracks over the past ten years, was also mentioned.

Stating that he played a key role in the deployment of equipment and crew to checking of the works done safely, Chee said: "Ridhwan and his colleagues did an excellent job with the safe and efficient replacement of these essential components."

Another employee given special mention was Wang Yizhen, whom Chee shared was one of the first engineers from the LTA's rolling stock team who was deployed to China during "the height of Covid-19", to supervise the manufacturing and testing of trains.

"She spent more than six months in a single deployment and navigated the Covid-19 restrictions without letting up on the progress of the project," he added. 

Next phases

Chee updated that seven of 106 new trains ordered have successfully entered service since June this year. The rest will be rolled out by 2026, CNA reported

The next phase of the project, which is the replacement of the track circuit system, is slated for completion in December 2023. 

"Our commitment to the renewal and maintenance efforts for our rail network will become even more important to deliver a safe, efficient and reliable commuting experience for Singaporeans," Chee concluded in his speech.

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