Things You Didn’t Know About Singapore’s MRT System

#13 Not All Trains Are Made the Same

MRT trains have evolved over the years from being driven by an operator and having no visual passenger information systems, to being entirely automated with dynamic in-train route display. There are 198 train sets for the North-South and East-West Lines, but not all of them are made equally. The first and third generations of trains were made in Kobe, Japan by Kawasaki Heavy Industries; the second generation was constructed in Vienna, Austria by Siemens; the fourth and fifth generations were built in China by CSR Qingdao Sifang. They sport different designs and material, for instance, the oldest set from Japan has an aluminium finish whereas the Austrian set boasts a scratch-resistant acrylic finish. Some of the trains on the North-East Line and Circle Line are made in France by Alstom, whereas others along the same routes are made in Shanghai.

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#14 Signalling System

There might have been a frustrating time when you experienced train delay due to a signalling fault. With the construction of new MRT lines and rising expectations of commuters to get to their destinations on time, the MRT system has adopted a newer SelTrac communications-based train control (CBTC) signalling system to facilitate more efficient train services across all its existing lines, including the older North-South and East-West routes. This system is supplied by the French company Thales and customised with specific software to tailor to the train infrastructural and environmental conditions. Hopefully, we can expect shorter waiting times and smoother rides on every line from now on.

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#15 Sleeper Replacement

A sleeper is simply a wooden or concrete beam placed transversely under railway tracks to support them. The MRT system in Singapore used to have timber sleepers that were designed to last up to 25 years. With numerous incidents of “Track Fault”, the sleepers that have shown signs of wear and tear have been replaced with concrete ones, which are made to last double the lifespan of timber sleepers. So far, 96,000 sleepers have been changed along the North-South line in the bid to ensure a smoother ride for commuters.

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