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NSL trains to resume normal speeds after sleeper replacements

Commuters along the North-South MRT line (NSL) can expect train speeds to return to normal by October, after works to replace train track sleepers are completed.

Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew told media that, “from around the fourth quarter of this year... I think commuters will find that their journeys to their respective destinations (will be) a bit shorter than what they are today.”

Mr Lui made the announcement while observing sleeper replacement works along the tracks between Bishan and Ang Mo Kio station on Tuesday morning.

SMRT has slowed down train speeds along NSL – from the usual 80 kmh to the current 40 kmh – while the old timber sleepers on train tracks are being replaced with sturdier concrete ones.

Speeds have been reduced for the past two years since works on replacing the sleepers began, which started in November 2012 following major disruptions on the NSL in December 2011. The disruptions caused hours of delays for commuters and SMRT was subsequently fined S$2m by the Land Transport Authority.

It is not clear where specifically the trains are required to slow down, but media reported that SMRT temporarily reduced train speeds along stretches of track where sleepers have been replaced as a safety precaution.

There is no indication as to whether the speeds of trains have been monitored, either before or after the sleeper replacement works. The speeds indicated refer to the speed limit at which trains can run.

It is also not known if the reduced train speeds might have been a cause of over-crowding at certain stations along the NSL.

Current replacement works on NSL account for about one-third of the sleepers, or 17% of total sleepers that need to be replaced on the NSL and East-West line (EWL). The tender for EWL sleeper replacement has yet to be called.

Mr Lui noted the inconvenience caused to commuters and was quoted by media as saying that he has asked SMRT to look into “organising visits for residents to witness the work and get “an idea of what’s going on and how important the work is.””

Image - screen capture from The Straits Times Online