Mass Rapid Transit (Singapore)

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Mass Rapid Transit (MRT)
大众捷运系统 (地铁)
Sistem Pengangkutan Gerak Cepat
துரிதக் கடவு ரயில்
Kawasaki c751 eunos.jpg
OwnerLand Transport Authority
Transit typeRapid transit
Number of lines8 (5 in operation, 3 under construction or planning)
Number of stations154 (102 in operation, 52 under construction or planning)
Daily ridership2.879 million (2015)
Began operation7 November 1987
System length170.7 km (106.1 mi)
Track gauge1,435mm (standard gauge)

The Mass Rapid Transit or MRT (Chinese: 大众快速交通 or more commonly known as 地铁; Malay: Sistem Pengangkutan Gerak Cepat; Tamil: சிங்கை துரிதக் கடவு ரயில்) is a rapid transit system in Singapore.

It is a rapid transit system which links the different places of Singapore together using a network, or different connections of trains. When a person travels from one place to another, he or she boards a train in a train station and then the train moves until the train reaches the place he or she wants to come out, or alight. Sometimes he or she has to change trains.

About 2.879 million passengers use the MRT everyday. The system is 170.7 km long and has 106 stations. Trains run from 5:30 am to 1:00 am every day except for the festive periods, such as Christmas Eve, New Year's Eve and Chinese New Year's Eve. A train comes every 2–3 minutes in peak hours, every 7 minutes during off-peak hours and 5–6 minutes for the weekend service. It is operated by Singapore's SMRT Corporation and SBS Transit.

There are currently 5 lines in the MRT system, where they are connected by special stops called interchanges. The lines are North South Line, East West Line, North East Line, Circle Line and Downtown Line. The Circle Line opened in four stages from 28 May 2009 to 14 January 2012. Stage 1 of Downtown Line opened on 22 December 2013[1] with its official opening made on 21 December 2013 by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.[2]

On December 16, 2011 the MRT network suffered what is likely to be the worst breakdown in its 24-year operating history. 'A power rail problem' made North-South Line trains suddenly lose power and stopped in darkness and without ventilation for up to an hour accompanied only by light from mobile phones.[3]

Network[change | change source]

Line First part opened Stations Length
Terminals Depot along line
North South Line (SMRT Trains) 7 November 1987 26 45 Jurong East Marina Bay MRT Station
Marina South Pier
East West Line (SMRT Trains) 12 December 1987 35 57.2 Pasir Ris Joo Koon Ulu Pandan
10 January 2001 3 Tanah Merah Changi Airport
North East Line (SBS Transit) 20 June 2003 16 20 HarbourFront Punggol Sengkang
Circle Line (SMRT Trains) 28 May 2009 31 (1 not in operation) 35.7 Dhoby Ghaut HarbourFront
Marina Bay
Kim Chuan
Downtown Line (SBS Transit) 22 December 2013 37 (3 not in operation) 42 Bukit Panjang Expo Kim Chuan
Gali Batu
Schematic map of the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) and Light Rapid Transit (LRT) network in Singapore.

Openings[change | change source]

Expansion[change | change source]

The MRT system only had two lines, the North South and East West Lines, for more than ten years until the opening of the North East Line in 2003. While plans for these lines, as well as those being built, were made long before, the Land Transport Authority's (LTA) proposal named "A World Class Land Transport System" in 1996 showed the government's intentions to greatly expand on the existing system.[4][5] The plans allow for the long-term replacement of the bus network by rail-based transportation as the main way of public transportation. It called for the expansion of the 67 kilometres of track in 1995 to over 160 in 10 to 15 years, and expected further expansion in the longer term.[4] It was anticipated that daily ridership in 2020 would have grown to 4.6 million from the current 1.4 million passengers. By 2020, the density of the rail network will increase by 60 per cent, from 31 to 51 km per million population, comparable to cities like New York and London, and surpassing Hong Kong and Tokyo.[6][7]

Downtown Line[change | change source]

The Downtown Line was built in three parts.[8] The first part is 4.3 kilometres long with six stations connecting Bugis on the East West Line to Chinatown on the North East Line. It opened on 22 December 2013.[9] The second part connects Bukit Panjang in western Singapore with the first part. This part opened on 27 December 2015.[10] The third part will connect Expo in eastern Singapore with the first part, and opened on 21 October 2017.[11] The completed line will be 42 kilometers long and have 37 stations, of which one is a shell station.

Thomson-East Coast Line[change | change source]

The 30-kilometre Thomson-East Coast Line is planned to be completed by 2024 and consists of 31 stations.[12] It will connect to the North South Line at Woodlands station, Orchard and Marina Bay, to the Circle Line at Thomson, Caldecott and Marina Bay, to the Downtown Line at Stevens and Sungei Bedok, and to the East West and North East lines at Outram Park.

The Thomson-East Coast Line was a result of a joining of two separate lines, the Thomson Line and the Eastern Region Line, which was announced on 15 August 2014. The Thomson Line consisted of the part from Woodlands North to Marina Bay, while the Eastern Region Line consisted of the rest of the joined line.[13]

Jurong Region Line[change | change source]

First proposed as a LRT line when originally announced in 2001, Jurong Region Line has been upgraded to a medium capacity line. The new configuration will serve West Coast, Tengah and Choa Chu Kang and Jurong. It is expected to open in 2025.[14]

Cross Island Line[change | change source]

The 50-kilometre Cross Island Line will span the island of Singapore, passing through Tuas, Jurong, Sin Ming, Ang Mo Kio, Hougang, Punggol, Pasir Ris and Changi. The addition of the new line brings commuters with another alternative for East-West travel to the current East West Line. It will also connect to all the other major lines to serve as a key transfer line, complementing the role currently fulfilled by the orbital Circle Line. It is expected to open in 2030.[14]

North South Line Extension[change | change source]

A 1-kilometre one station extension from Marina Bay initially due for completion in 2015, but brought forward by a year to 2014.[15][16] The new Marina South Pier is located near the Marina Bay Cruise Centre Singapore in Marina Bay. It was opened on 23 November 2014.

Tuas West Extension[change | change source]

The Tuas West Extension is an extension of the East West Line from Joo Koon to Tuas Link. The stations — Gul Circle, Tuas Crescent, Tuas West Road and Tuas Link — will extend MRT connectivity to the Tuas area and are expected to serve more than 100,000 commuters daily.[17] Construction began in 2012 and the extension opened on 18 June 2017.[17]

Circle Line Stage 6[change | change source]

To be completed by 2025, the 4-kilometre extension will run from Marina Bay through Keppel, ending at HarbourFront, making the Circle Line a full continuous circle.[14]

Downtown Line Extension[change | change source]

To be completed by 2024, the extension will run from Expo and through Sungei Bedok area.[14]

North East Line Extension[change | change source]

To be completed by 2030, the 2-kilometre extension will run from Punggol through Punggol North including the new Punggol Downtown. The extension is for future residents in Punggol North to have train access to the city centre as well as other parts of Singapore.[14]

Facilities at the stations[change | change source]

Every station has ticket machines, restrooms (toilets), a passenger service center, which controls what is happening in the train station and has wired radio with the train operator, payphones (public phones) and access for disabled. Some of them have automated teller machines, kiosks and a bus interchange nearby.

All stations in Singapore are either elevated or underground, with the exception of Bishan. Underground stations and trains are air-conditioned and have full-height platform screen doors. Elevated stations have half-height platform screen doors.

Rolling Stock[change | change source]

A total of 11 types of rolling stock are used on the MRT lines. All of them, except those on the North East MRT Line (which uses 1500 voltage current from overhead wires), are powered by 750 voltage current from a third rail.

For the East West and North South Lines, six types of rolling stock are used. The oldest is the C151, built in 1986-89 by a collaboration between Kawasaki Heavy Industries and three sub-companies, Kinki Sharyo, Nippon Sharyo and Tokyu Car Corp. 66 trainsets are in operation, which were upgraded between 2006 and 2008. 19 more C651s were purchased in 1994 from Siemens AG, followed by 21 more C751B sets, built in 1999-2000 from Kawasaki Heavy Industries and Nippon Sharyo. Two companies, Kawasaki Heavy Industries and CSR Sifang, have collaborated to build 3 types of rolling stock. The fourth rolling stock in operation is the C151A. They were built between 2010 and 2014, and started operations in 2011. The next rolling stock that started operations is the C151B, which began operations on 16 April 2017. The next rolling stock being built between 2017 and 2019 is the C151C, and will begin operations from 2019.

On the North East Line, 25 six-car trainsets of the C751A were built from 1999 to 2002 by Alstom. A further 18 trainsets, the C751C, were built by Alstom and Shanghai Electric and entered operation on 1 October 2015.

For the fourth MRT line, the Circle Line, 40 three-car trainsets of C830s were built from 2005 to 2008 and began operations in 2009. Together with the C751Cs, the same companies made 24 C830C trainsets which began operations on 26 June 2015.

For the fifth MRT line, the Downtown Line, 73 three car C951s were built by Bombardier Transportation and began operations in 2013. An additional 15 trains and a final 4 trains were ordered, bringing the total number of C951s to 92 trainsets.

For the future Thomson-East Coast Line which is being built, 91 four-car trainsets of the CT251s are being built and will be delivered between 2018 and 2021, and will begin operations from 2019.

Fares and ticketing[change | change source]

Stations are divided into two areas, paid and unpaid, which allow the rail operators to collect fares by restricting entry only through the fare gates, also known as access control gates.[18] These gates, connected to a computer network, are capable of reading and updating electronic tickets capable of storing data, and can store information such as the initial and destination stations and the duration for each trip.[19] General Ticketing Machines sell tickets for single trips or allow the customer to purchase additional value for stored-value tickets. Tickets for single trips, coloured in green, are valid only on the day of purchase, and have a time allowance of 30 minutes beyond the estimated travelling time. Tickets that can be used repeatedly until their expiry date require a minimum amount of stored credit.

As the fare system has been integrated by TransitLink, commuters need to pay only one fare and pass through two fare gates (once on entry, once on exit) for an entire journey, even when transferring between lines operated by different companies.[19] Commuters can choose to extend a trip mid-journey, and pay the difference as they exit their destination station.

The ticketing system uses the EZ-Link and NETS FlashPay contactless smart cards based upon the System for e-Payments (SeP) system for public transit built on the Singapore Standard for Contactless ePurse Application (CEPAS) system. This system allows for up to 4 card issuers in the market.[20] The EZ-Link card was introduced on 13 April 2002 as a replacement to the original TransitLink farecard while its competitor the NETS FlashPay card entered the smart card market on 9 October 2009. The adult EZ-link card is at S$15 while the NETS FlashPay card is at S$13.

Safety[change | change source]

Assurance has been given by both operators and authorities, that many actions have been taken in an effort to ensure the safety of passengers, with SBS Transit having to make greater efforts in actively publicising its safety considerations on the driverless North East Line before and after its opening.[21][22] Safety campaign posters are highly visible in trains and stations, and the operators frequently play safety announcements to passengers and to commuters waiting for trains. Fire safety standards are consistent with the strict guidelines of the US National Fire Protection Association.[23][24] Platform screen doors are installed at all underground stations,[23] with half-height platform screen doors installed at all above-ground stations. These doors prevent suicides and disallowed access to restricted areas, as well as enabling climate control in stations. Above-ground stations have open platforms, with a wide yellow line drawn 70 cm from each platform edge requiring passengers to stand at a safe distance from arriving trains (or face a fine).[25] Bylaws reduce uncivil, disruptive and dangerous acts, such as smoking, the consumption of food and drink, the malicious use of safety features, and trespassing on the railway tracks. Penalties ranging from fines to jail are given for these offences.[26][27]

Safety concerns were raised among the public after several accidents on the system during the 1980s and 1990s, but most problems have been fixed. On 5 August 1993, two trains collided at Clementi MRT Station because of an oil spillage on the track, which resulted in 132 injuries.[28] There were calls for platform screen doors to be installed at above-ground stations after several incidents in which passengers were killed by oncoming trains when they fell onto the railway tracks at above-ground stations. The people in charge initially rejected such proposals as they felt that the functional purposes were not worth the high cost of installation,[29] but changed their minds when the government announced plans to install half-height automatic platform gates in a speech on 25 January 2008, reasoning that worldwide installations of these gates reduced the market price for them.

Security[change | change source]

Security concerns related to crime and terrorism were not the biggest priority of the system's planners at its original creation. However, after the Madrid train bombings in 2004 and the failed plan to bomb the Yishun MRT Station, the operators deployed private, unarmed guards to patrol station platforms and check the belongings of commuters.

Recorded announcements are frequently made to remind passengers to report suspicious activity and not to leave their belongings unattended. Digital closed-circuit cameras (CCTVs) have been upgraded with recording software at all stations and trains operated by SMRT Corporation. Trash bins and mail boxes have been removed from station platforms and concourse levels to station entrances, to remove the risk that bombs will be placed in them. Photography without prior allowance was also banned in all MRT stations since.

On 14 April 2005, the Singapore Police Force announced plans to improve rail security by creating a specialised Police MRT Unit, now known as Public Transport Security Command (Transcom). These armed officers began patrols on the MRT and LRT systems on 15 August 2005, conducting random patrols in pairs in and around rail stations and within trains. They are trained and allowed to use their firearms if they need to, including deadly force if necessary.[source?]

References[change | change source]

  1. "Downtown Line". Land Transport Authority. Retrieved 22 December 2013.
  2. "Downtown Line Stage 1 officially opened by PM Lee". The Straits Times. 21 December 2013. Retrieved 22 December 2013.
  3. "Singapore's MRT Breakdown Chaos Leaves Thousands Stranded". December 16, 2011.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Land Transport Authority, Singapore 1996, pg. 44-47
  5. "Other Rail Projects". Land Transport Authority. Retrieved 2005-12-07.
  6. "2 new MRT lines & 2 extensions by 2020". The Straits Times. 2008-01-25.
  7. Christoper Tan (13 March 2006). "Groundwork begins for new MRT lines". The Straits Times.
  8. "Land Transport Authority - What's New :: Content". 2007-04-27. Retrieved 2009-10-15.
  9. "Land Transport Masterplan: Downtown Line Stage 1 to open on Dec 22". The Straits Times. Retrieved 16 November 2013.
  11. "Works on DTL3, Thomson line, progressing well". Today Online.
  12. "MRT network length to double by 2020; two new lines to be built". 2008-01-25. Retrieved 2009-10-15.
  13. Maria Almenoar (26 January 2008). "Two new MRT lines by 2020". The Straits Times.[dead link]
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 14.3 14.4 "TWO NEW RAIL LINES AND THREE NEW EXTENSIONS TO EXPAND RAIL NETWORK BY 2030". Land Transport Authority. January 17, 2013.
  15. "COS 2012: Land Transport Updates". Minsitry Of Transport. 7 March 2012.
  16. "Breaking News – Singapore - The Straits Times". Retrieved 8 April 2018.
  17. 17.0 17.1 "Construction Starts for Tuas West Extension". Land Transport Authority. 4 May 2012.
  18. R C Longden & E W Finch (April 1987). "Automatic Fare Collection - Serving the Commuter". MRTC & IES 1987, pg. 319-324 . 
  19. 19.0 19.1 Sharp 2005, pg. 113-115
  20. Maria Almenoar (9 January 2009). "Free replacement exercise on till Sept 30". The Straits Times. Retrieved 2009-07-20.
  21. Karamjit Kaur (20 November 2002). "Driverless MRT trains on new line will be safe; The North-East MRT line will have safety features like CCTVs and smoke detectors to protect commuters, says LTA". The Straits Times. p. 10.
  22. Tammy Tan (SBS Transit) (24 December 2005). "Measures in place to ensure safe ride on NEL". The Straits Times Forum.
  23. 23.0 23.1 Kwan Cheng Fai (April 1987). "Architecture of Singapore MRT Underground Stations Concept Layout and Planning". MRTC & IES 1987, pp. 29–33 . 
  24. Y C Siew & J P Copsey (April 1987). "Singapore Mass Rapid Transit System Design for Fire and Emergency". MRTC & IES 1987, pg. 131-139 . 
  25. Mass Rapid Transit Corporation, Singapore, Trackline Volume 4 No. 5 (October 1987), "A safe railway for all", pp. 4–5.
  26. "Rapid Transit Systems Act (Chapter 263A, Section 42)". Singapore Statutes Online. Retrieved 2005-12-07. External link in |publisher= (help)
  27. "Fined $30 for eating sweet". The Straits Times. 17 July 2009. Retrieved 2009-07-20.
  28. Matthew Pereira & Branden Pereira (6 August 1993). "MRT Trains collide at Clementi : 132 hurt". The Straits Times. pp. 1 & 25.
  29. Land Transport Authority (20 November 2005). "Safety at MRT and LRT Stations - Respect The Yellow Line". Press release. 

See Also[change | change source]

Other websites[change | change source]