ST altrain07-minA two-car train arriving at Tongkang LRT station during a test ride yesterday. Photo: ST

New system allowing carriages to run in pairs, instead of singly, by first quarter of next year

Adrian Lim
The Straits Times
October 7, 2015

Capacity on the Sengkang LRT system will be boosted by the first quarter of next year, when train cars can be coupled to run in pairs, instead of just singly in the current system.

This will help commuters, who often have to deal with packed cabins during rush hour.

The Land Transport Authority (LTA) said on Monday that it has commenced testing two-car trains on the tracks during off-service hours this week – a milestone for the project announced in 2012.

Of the 41 train cars used on the Sengkang-Punggol LRT, 16 will be modified to operate in pairs. The LTA expects to hand them over to operator SBS Transit by the end of the year.

Each carriage can ferry up to 105 passengers, but to make room for the additional equipment required for the cars to operate with one another, the capacity gets cut down to 102. This means that in the two-car system, the total capacity for each trip is boosted to 204.

As of June, the Sengkang LRT was used by more than 60,000 commuters daily – a 9 per cent increase from a year ago.

Besides the train car modification, the signalling system for the Sengkang LRT was upgraded to handle two-car operations, and this was launched on Sept 27.

Upgrading of the signalling system for the Punggol stretch is under way and is expected to finish by the third quarter of next year. Close to 37,000 commuters use the Punggol LRT every day and they can also expect to have a two-car system by early 2017.

Sengkang LRT commuter Jimmy Bay, a 28-year-old engineer, said the two-car system is needed. “Usually at around 8.30am, the trains are very congested. I can still manage to get in, but it’s a squeeze.”

Bank manager Andrew Ang, 49, who lives near Tongkang station, said he finds it hard to board the trains in the morning. So he takes a train in the opposite direction to Layar station, alights there, and reboards the train going in the direction of Sengkang interchange.

Relief is on the way. Sixteen new cars will be added to the Sengkang- Punggol LRT by 2017, boosting the fleet by 40 per cent. All 16 cars can operate in a two-car system.

The LTA also said on Monday that it will be building stabling facilities at the LRT’s “link line”, which is a series of service tracks linking the Sengkang and Punggol loops.

This will allow trains to be launched from there into the Punggol network in just two minutes, rather than from the Sengkang depot, which is about 15 minutes away.

The LTA’s deputy director for network renewal, Mr Ibrahim Malik, said: “Also, with trains stabled at the link line, the operator will be able to inject new trains into service quickly to replace any faulty vehicles in (the) event of service disruptions.”

This article was first published on October 7, 2015.
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