Local transport operator, Singapore Mass Rapid Transit (SMRT) has announced that it will deploy 20 per cent more staff to handle commuters’ queries when 10 stations on the eastern stretch of the East-West Line (EWL) cut operating hours on weekends to quicken maintenance and renewal works this month, starting this week.
In all, 1,200 staff, including bus captains operating the shuttle services, crowd marshals and station personnel will assist commuters along the stretch between Paya Lebar and Pasir Ris MRT stations, as well as Expo and Changi Airport stations, which will be closed on Fridays and Saturdays at 11 pm and late openings at 8 am on Saturdays and Sundays this month. These 10 stations will also close for the whole day on the last two Sundays, 21 and 28 January.
The 300 buses will be on four shuttle services serving commuters using the affected EWL MRT stations this month, Shuttle 7 between Aljunied and Pasir Ris (both bounds); Shuttle 8 between Tanah Merah and Changi Airport Terminal 3 (both bounds); Shuttle 11 from Aljunied to MacPherson (one direction); and Express 12 between Changi Airport and Bugis (both bounds). Expo station is connected to the Downtown Line (DTL), while MacPherson MRT Station is connected to both DTL and Circle Line.
SMRT’s Director of Operations Support and Resource Management, Vincent Gay, said that the extra staff, which is 20 per cent more than during the previous round of closures on the western sector last month, will add a human touch to help on the ground.
Larger signage to inform commuters of the affected train service and alternative transport options have been put up at strategic spots at the affected stations. While at the airport, these have been placed at the baggage claim belts, and at escalators leading to the underground MRT station.
From this weekend, train services on the North-South Line (NSL) will also run at longer intervals of between 10 and 15 minutes along seven stations, from Orchard Road to Marina South Pier, after 11pm and before 7am on weekends. There will also be no service between City Hall and Raffles Place stations on the NSL during this period. However, SMRT noted that commuters can still access the route on the EWL.
The shorter operating hours was announced previously, aimed at doubling the time engineers have on the tracks to carry out works, so that resignalling works on the EWL can be completed in June this year, six months earlier than scheduled.
It said that the extra engineering hours will also be used for maintenance and renewal works on the North-South East-West lines.
The first tranche of the shortened operating hours on the western segment of the EWL affected 17 stations in December, from Tiong Bahru to Tuas Link. Meanwhile, services between Joo Koon and Gul Circle stations were suspended entirely until June.