SINGAPORE — Two-car trains — double the capacity of the usual one-car trains — began operations on the Sengkang loop of the Sengkang-Punggol LRT system today (Jan 5), aimed at easing the crowding on the network. This benefit nearby executive condo residents such as those from The Terrace EC, Waterwoods EC, Amore EC, The Vales EC and Bellewaters EC.
The eight two-car trains will be deployed during the morning and evening peak hours. It was successfully tested during off-peak hours from Dec 21.
Similar upgrades to the Punggol loop will be implemented by the first quarter of next year, said the Land Transport Authority. The Sengkang loop had been prioritised for the upgrade, as it is busier. As of September, the Sengkang loop had an average daily ridership of more than 61,000. SBS Transit, which operates the line, did not respond to queries on ridership for the Punggol loop. According to its 2014 annual report, average daily ridership on the Sengkang-Punggol system was 86,782.
The upgrade for the entire Sengkang-Punggol network was first announced in 2012. Besides upgrading the existing train-cars and the signalling system, another 16 train cars will be added to the current fleet of 41 train cars. The cars are deployed in either one- or two-car configurations, and each car can take 102 passengers.
The platforms on the Sengkang loop were crowded with commuters when the new two-car trains were launched today. Sengkang resident Ethan Yuen said the two-car trains need to be deployed more frequently to effectively alleviate peak-hour traffic. “Usually the congestion is much worse during the evenings than during the mornings,” said the 30-year-old business development manager, noting that he had boarded a single-car train this morning.
Senior Minister of State for Transport Ng Chee Meng, who rode on a two-car train early this morning, said residents he spoke to generally had positive feedback for the upgrade. “We live relatively hectic lives, coming in in the morning with the kids going to school, (adults) going to work…The ability to board the first train is a major convenience to the residents,” he said.
Progressive addition of trains over the years will ensure that supply matches peak-hour demand of trains, said Mr Ng, who is also Acting Education Minister (Schools).
Sengkang West Member of Parliament Lam Pin Min noted the residents had previously complained about the long waiting times to board the trains, and the situation should improve with the two-carriage trains. He added that some residents have expressed concerned on the noise generated by the LRT, and this was being addressed.
Responding to queries, SBST senior vice president for corporate communications Tammy Tan said the noise is caused by the train travelling over what is called a switch plate near stations. Switch plates facilitate the movement of trains into the station. Over time, gaps at the switch plate can widen because of changes in temperature, causing noise.
Ms Tan said works have been carried out on Sundays since Dec 20 to replace the switch plate system that will avoid the issue with widening gaps. They are scheduled to be completed by May 8.