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Even as efforts are made to ramp up the reliability of older MRT lines, the authorities are also finding new ways to improve newer networks.

17 May 2018 | Local News : Singapore


Even as efforts are made to ramp up the reliability of older MRT lines, the authorities are also finding new ways to improve commuter experience on newer networks. On Monday, the Land Transport Authority launched a pilot information system for the Downtown Line (DTL), which will tell commuters which cabins of an oncoming train are crowded or empty.

Passengers feel that the system brings no relief if train services are often disrupted or packed
If the trial is successful, this system may be extended to other MRT lines. The announcement of the $1.5 million Passenger Load Information System for the DTL, however, was met with scepticism from commuters.

The grouse is that the authorities should be focusing on improving the reliability of the MRT network, instead of investing resources on such frills. They have a point. If train services are often disrupted or cabins are packed to the brim during peak hours, the system brings no relief.

The 30-year old North-South East-West Line (NSEWL) is still in the midst of a massive renewal. After the new signalling system is fully tested and rolled out, the next big upgrading project will be for the NSEWL's power supply system.

Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan said last week that this will be a complex project requiring five years, and could demand extended engineering time - meaning MRT operating hours could be shortened. The new signalling system will allow trains to arrive at shorter intervals and for more trains to be injected into the network. This will increase the power load on the system, which thus has to be beefed up.

But there is a definite limit to how much extra capacity can be created by running more trains, especially as ridership continues to grow. While a Passenger Load Information System may be seen as an unnecessary frill now, it will be helpful in the future as commuters boarding the train are equally spaced out among the cabins, making for a more comfortable ride and maximising capacity.
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