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Commuters advised to cater for additional travelling time on NSL as checks are carried out for new signalling system

In a statement issued yesterday, local transport operator, SMRT cautioned commuters that they may experience inconvenience as its engineers resolve teething issues on the new signalling system for the North-South Line from next week (week commencing 29 May 2017).

Issues could include train and platform doors not opening or closing promptly, trains remaining at stations longer than usual, and trains stopping for short durations between stations.

From next week, system-level performance checks on the new signalling system for the NSL will be carried out on weekdays. The intensive weekday runs follow the Sunday checks done since 16 April 2017, and said to allow SMRT and the Land Transport Authority (LTA) to carry out continuous checks on the new signalling system.

SMRT stated that engineers from SMRT, LTA and Thales, the supplier of the signalling system, have been monitoring the performance of the signalling system closely since NSL trains began serving passengers using the new signalling system in late March.

The engineers continue to rectify teething issues which include achieving higher accuracy of train and station door alignment, better coordination between closure of train and station doors, familiarising train captains with operating the new system in inclement weather and allowing maintenance teams to troubleshoot and rectify faults with the new system.

The weekday system-level performance checks is said to allow the system engineers to further fine-tune and improve the operational performance of the system, furnishing engineers and maintenance staff with data on the performance of the new signalling system.

The data will be assessed closely by the company as well as LTA as part of rigorous checks before the system is declared fully capable of eventually supporting train operations at intervals of as short as 100 seconds between each train.

During the weekday system checks, the new signalling system may continue to encounter some glitches as it settles in to full-load operations. Commuters on the NSL could experience instances of train and platform doors not opening or closing promptly, trains held at stations slightly longer than usual, or trains stopping momentarily between stations.

SMRT noted that in earlier trials which took place during the last hour of passenger service, and during Sunday trials, the safety system stopped trains momentarily so that engineering staff could address signal glitches.

It states that the new Communications-Based Train Control signalling system is designed with this safety feature which ensures trains will be kept at a proper distance from one another at all times. Such situations are not safety critical and more engineers will be on standby to respond quickly to situations that may arise. More station staff will also be on hand to assist commuters.

These weekday system checks have been planned to commence during the June holidays to minimise commuter inconvenience. However, those travelling on the NSL are still advised to cater for additional travelling time.

"We thank our commuters for their patience and understanding as we conduct more robust checks on the new system." wrote SMRT.

Mr Alvin Kek, SMRT Senior Vice President for Rail Operations (NSEWL), said: “While we look forward to operating trains on the new signalling system, the all-day performance checks are part and parcel of working out teething issues that may arise when a new signalling system is introduced to a train network. Our engineers, operations controllers, and trains and stations operations staff have been working with LTA and Thales for the past two months to ensure that the checks on the new signalling system are carried out under close monitoring, and to ensure that all incidents are quickly resolved. We continue to ask for commuters’ patience and cooperation as we work round the clock to settle the system in as quickly as possible.”

Commuters can refer to SMRT’s Facebook and Twitter feed, as well as the SMRT Connect and MyTransport travel apps for service updates.