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Written Reply by Minister for Transport Khaw Boon Wan to Parliamentary Question on Progress of Upgrading Works for Bukit Panjang LRT System

07 Oct 2019 In Parliament

Dr Teo Ho Pin asked the Minister for Transport

a.     whether he can provide an update on the progress of the upgrading works of the Bukit Panjang LRT system; and

b.     what measures are taken to reduce the inconvenience caused to commuters during the upgrading period.

Reply by Minister for Transport Khaw Boon Wan:

1.     The renewal of the Bukit Panjang Light Rail Transit (BPLRT) system is on track.

2.     In March 2018, LTA awarded the renewal contract to Bombardier. The contract includes several elements. First, the existing signalling system will be replaced with a new Communications-Based Train Control (CBTC) system. Second, the 19 Light Rapid Vehicles (LRVs) that have been in service since 1999 will be replaced with new and improved ones. Third, the other 13 LRVs, introduced in 2015, will be upgraded. Fourth, the power rail running along the entire 7.8km length of the BPLRT will be replaced with an enhanced version. In addition, all the new systems will be equipped with the latest condition monitoring capabilities. This will support a more efficient maintenance regime over the life cycle of the assets.  

3.     The engineers have completed most of the design work. Software testing for the new CBTC signalling system has started at Bombardier’s overseas labs. The installation of hardware at stations and along tracks has been ongoing since April 2019. This includes the laying of cables and installation of signalling beacons. New antennas will be mounted along the tracks in the coming months.  

4.     To provide additional engineering hours for both maintenance and renewal efforts, the BPLRT has been closing earlier at 11.30 pm since 13 January 2019. LTA has correspondingly extended the operating hours of key Bukit Panjang buses to maintain last-mile connectivity and minimise inconvenience to residents. 

5.     Going forward, we may need more of such engineering hours as the pace of renewal ramps up, and testing of the new signalling system and LRVs commences on the tracks. Learning from the re-signalling of the North-South and East-West Lines, it is important that we test rigorously, to ensure smooth delivery of the new systems. 

6.     Meanwhile, SMRT has also intensified maintenance to support the legacy BPLRT systems. Reliability has improved. However, maintenance of ageing assets has its limits.

7.     This is why SMRT and LTA are studying the option of reducing BPLRT services during off-peak periods, relying on buses instead. Doing so will help us tide over the transitional period until the renewal is completed. By 2022, residents can look forward to smoother and more reliable rides when the new CBTC signalling system and LRVs commence services.