According to transport operator, SMRT and the Land Transport Authority (LTA), 17 MRT stations on East-West Line (EWL) and two MRT stations on North-South Line (NSL) will be fully closed on 10 and 17 Dec (Both Sundays) to allow for extended engineering hours.
This announcement follows the recent accident at Joo Koon where a slow-moving train collided with a stationary train due to an “inadvertent” disabling of a software protection feature. LTA said that the software glitch arose when a faulty train was transiting between the old and new signalling systems.
Other than the closure, the 17 MRT stations from Tiong Bahru to Tuas Link along EWL and the two stations on NSL, Bukit Batok and Bukit Gombak will close earlier on Friday and Saturday at 11pm and open later on Saturdays and Sundays at 8am from 8 December to 31 December.
According to the joint statement, the shorter operating hours will double engineering and track access time for engineers to "accelerate" re-signalling works on the EWL.
Other than the 19 affected stations, authorities have not ruled out full-day closures on other segments of the EWL.
It is noted that the two stations along NSL, Bukit Batok and Bukit Gombak are affected as engineering works will extend to Jurong East MRT station, a heavily used intersection of the NSL and EWL.
LTA claims that with the increased engineering hours, the completion of re-signalling works on the EWL will be "significantly accelerated" from the end of 2018 to June 2018. It added that the works for the NSL are on track to be completed by next month.
The statement also prepares commuters to expect reduced train service hours along other stretches of the NSEWL in the first half of 2018. Parallel shuttle buses are said to be provided along affected MRT stations during affected hours and fares will follow the rail fare structure.
The revised engineering schedule announced on Tuesday will accelerate re-signalling works on the EWL, "so that train services on the entire line, including TWE (Tuas West Extension), can run seamlessly on the new CBTC system", the joint statement said and that it will also provide more time for other renewal projects and maintenance works to "improve overall reliability" on the NSEWL.
Mr Ngien Hoon Ping, LTA's chief executive, said that more details would be announced at a later date and that LTA would "work with public transport operators" to ensure there are alternatives for commuters who need to travel along the stretches affected.
"The additional engineering hours (are) very precious to LTA, SMRT and (signalling contractor) Thales," said Mr Ngien. "This will substantially accelerate the implementation of the new signalling system for the EWL and provide additional maintenance hours for the entire NSEWL network."
"We have chosen December to quickly execute some of these plans," he told reporters. "December being a period where many Singaporeans are not in Singapore."