Mass Rapid Transit (Singapore)
| Mass Rapid Transit (MRT)|
Sistem Pengangkutan Gerak Cepat
துரிதக் கடவு ரயில்
|Owner||Land Transport Authority|
|Transit type||Rapid transit|
|Number of lines||4|
|Number of stations||90|
|Daily ridership||2.406 million (2011)|
|Began operation||7 November 1987|
|Operator(s)|| SMRT Corporation|
|System length||148.9 km|
|Track gauge||1,435 mm (Standerd Gauge)|
The Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) is a rapid transit system that forms the major component of the railway system in Singapore. The initial section of the MRT, between Yio Chu Kang Station and Toa Payoh Station opened in 1987. The network has since grown rapidly in accordance with Singapore's aim of developing a comprehensive rail network as the backbone of the public transport system, with an average daily ridership of 2.406 million in 2011, approximately 71% of the bus network's 3.385 million in the same period.
The MRT network has 90 stations with 148.9 kilometres of lines and operates on standard gauge. The lines have been constructed by the Land Transport Authority which allocates operating concessions to either SMRT Corporation and SBS Transit. The MRT is complemented by the regional Light Rapid Transit (LRT) systems that link MRT stations with HDB public housing estates.(1) Services operate from about 5.30am and end about 1am daily with frequencies of approximately 2 to 12 minutes, and services extended during festive periods.(2)
- Main articles: History of the Mass Rapid Transit (Singapore)
The origins of the MRT are derived from a forecast by city planners in 1967 which stated the need for a rail-based urban transport system by 1992.(3)(4) Following a debate on whether a bus-only system would be more cost-effective, Parliament came to the conclusion that an all-bus system would be inadequate, as it would have to compete for road space in a land-scarce country.(5)(6) The initial $5 billion construction of the network was Singapore's largest public works project at the time, starting on 22 October 1983 at Shan Road.(7) The network was built in stages, with the North South Line given priority because it passed through the central area that has a high demand for public transport. The Mass Rapid Transit Corporation (MRTC), later renamed as SMRT Corporation, was established on 14 October 1983; it took over the roles and responsibilities of the former provisional Mass Rapid Transit Authority.(5) On 7 November 1987, the first section of the North South Line started operations, consisting of five stations over six kilometres.(7) The opening of Boon Lay Station on the East West Line on 6 July 1990 marked the completion of the system two years ahead of schedule.(8)(9)
The MRT has subsequently been expanded. This includes a $1.2 billion expansion of the North South Line into Woodlands, completing a continuous loop on 10 February 1996.(10)(11) The concept of having rail lines that bring people almost directly to their homes led to the introduction of the Light Rapid Transit (LRT) lines connecting with the MRT network.(11)(12) On 6 November 1999, the first LRT trains on the Bukit Panjang LRT went into operation.(13) In 2002, the Changi Airport and Expo stations were added to the MRT network.(14) The North East Line (NEL) opened on 20 June 2003. On 15 January 2006, after intense lobbying by the public, Buangkok station was opened.(15)(16) The Boon Lay Extension, consisting of Pioneer and Joo Koon, began revenue service on 28 February 2009.(17)(18) On 28 May 2009, the first section of the Circle Line from Marymount Station to Bartley Station was opened. The second sections, from Tai Seng Station to Dhoby Ghaut Station, opened on 17 April 2010. The third sections, from Caldecott stations to Harbourfront station, opened on 8 October 2011. The Circle Line Marina Bay Extension from Promenade station to Marina Bay station, opened on 14 January 2012.
|Opening Year||Latest Extension||Termini||Station|| Length
|Depot along line|
| North South Line
|1987||1996||Jurong East||Marina Bay||25||43.5|| Bishan|
| East West Line
|1987||2009||Pasir Ris||Joo Koon||29||49.7|| Ulu Pandan|
|2001||2002||Tanah Merah||Changi Airport||3|
| North East Line
| Circle Line
|2009||2011||Dhoby Ghaut||HarbourFront||30||35.7||Kim Chuan|
Facilities and services
- Main articles: Facilities on the Mass Rapid Transit (Singapore)
Except for the partly at-grade Bishan MRT Station, the entirety of the MRT station is elevated or underground. Most underground stations are deep and hardened enough to withstand conventional aerial bomb attacks and serve as bomb shelters.(19)(20)(21) Mobile phone service is available in and between all stations on the entire network.(22) Underground stations and trains are air-conditioned while some elevated stations have fans installed soon.
Every station is equipped with General Ticketing Machines (GTMs), a Passenger Service Centre, LED and plasma displays that show train service information and announcements. All stations are also equipped with restrooms and payphones.(23) Some stations have additional amenities and services, such as retail shops and kiosks, supermarkets, convenience stores, ATM, and self-service automated kiosks for a variety of services.(24) Heavy-duty escalators shuttle passengers up or down the station at a rate of 0.75 m/s.(25)(26)
The older stations on the North South Line and East West Line were originally built with no accessible facilities, such as lifts, ramps, tactile guidance systems (braille tactiles on the floor surface), wider fare gates and toilets for passengers with disabilities;(27) authorities in the past discouraged use of their system by the disabled.(28) However, these facilities are installed to make all stations accessible to the elderly and to those with disabilities.(27)(29)(30) All stations are now barrier-free, although works are ongoing to provide stations with additional barrier-free facilities. On 7 March 2012, transport minister Lui Tuck Yew told Parliament that the installation of lifts at pedestrian overhead bridges next to 6 stations would be completed by 2013. Also, there are to be additional bicycle parking racks for 10 stations completed by 2012 and another 10 stations to have bicycle parking racks by 2013.(31)
SMRT Corporation has four train depots: The Bishan Depot is the central maintenance depot with train overhaul facilities,(32) while the Changi Depot and Ulu Pandan Depot inspect and house trains overnight.(33) The Kim Chuan Depot houses trains for the Circle Line.(34) Jurong East , Tanah Merah, Ang Mo Kio, and Paya Lebar (Circle Line) stations' platforms were built with a third middle track for off-service trains to stop before returning to their depots.
Sengkang Depot houses trains for the North East Line, the Sengkang LRT and the Punggol LRT, all operated by SBS Transit. It is the first depot to have structural provisions for an industrial development located above the depot, to minimize the wastage of land in land-scarce Singapore.(34)
On 7 March 2012, transport minister Lui Tuck Yew told Parliament that a new depot for the North South and East West Lines (NSEWL) and Tuas West Extension would be ready in 2016, and the upgrading of the existing North South Line and East West Line (NSEWL) depots would be started and completed by 2014.(35)
Architecture and art
Early stages of the MRT's construction paid relatively scant attention to station design, with an emphasis on functionality over aesthetics. This is evident from the station that opened between 1987 and 1988. An exception to this was Orchard Station, chosen by its designers to be a "showpiece" of the system and was built initially with a domed roof.(36) Architectural themes became a more important issue only in subsequent stages, and resulted in such designs as the cylindrical station shapes on all stations between Kallang and Pasir Ris except Eunos. Boon Lay, Lakeside, Chinese Garden, Bukit Batok, Bukit Gombak, Choa Chu Kang, Khatib, Yishun and Eunos stations has perched roofs.(37)
Art pieces are seldom highlighted; they primarily consist of a few paintings or sculptures representing the past of Singapore, mounted in major stations. The opening of Woodlands Extension introduced bolder pieces of artwork, such as a 4,000 kg sculpture in Woodlands Station.(38) With the opening of the North East Line, a series of artworks created under a programme called "Art In Transit" were commissioned by the Land Transport Authority. Created by 19 local artists and integrated into the stations' interior architecture, these artworks aim to promote the appreciation of public art in high-traffic environments. The artwork for each station is designed to suit the station's identity. Only stations on the North East Line, Circle Line and Downtown Line come under this programme.(39)(40)
Expo Station on the East West Line Changi Airport Extension is adjacent to Singapore Expo exhibition facility. Designed by Foster and Partners and completed in January 2001, the station features a large pillarless titanium clad roof in an elliptical shape that sheathes the length of the station platform. This complements a smaller 40 m reflective stainless steel disc overlapping the titanium ellipse and visually floats over a glass elevator shaft and the main entrance. The other station with similar architecture is Dover.(41)(42)
Two Circle Line Stations, Bras Basah and Stadium were commissioned through the Marina Line Architectural Design Competition jointly organized by the Land Transport Authority and the Singapore Institute of Architects. The competition required no track record and is acknowledged by the industry as one of the most impartial competitions held in Singapore to date. The winner of both stations was WOHA. In 2009, "Best Transport Building" was awarded to the designers at WOHA Architects at the World Architecture Festival (43)
The MRT system relied on its two main lines, North South Line and East West Line, for more than a decade until the opening of the North East Line in 2003. While plans for these lines, as well as those currently under construction, were formulated long before, the Land Transport Authority's (LTA) publication of a white paper titled "A World Class Land Transport System" in 1996 galvanised the government's intentions to expand on the existing system.(44)(45) The plans allow for long-term replacement of bus network by rail-based transportation as the primary mode of public transportation. It called for the expansion of the 67 km of track in 1995 to over 160 in 10 to 15 years, and envisaged further expansion in the longer term.(44) It was anticipated that daily ridership in 2020 would have grown to 4.6 million from the current 1.4 million passengers.(46) The addition of the lines currently under construction and those approved for construction will bring the MRT network to 278 km by 2020.(47)(48)
- Main articles: Downtown Line
Currently in construction, the 41.9 km fully underground Downtown Line (DTL) passing through 34 stations will connect the northwestern and eastern regions of Singapore to the new downtown at Marina Bay in the south and the Central Business District.(49) Similar to the Circle Line, 3-car trainsets will run on the Downtown Line with line capacity for 500,000 commuters daily. It will be completed in three stages with stages 1, 2 and 3 opening by 2013, 2015 and 2017 respectively.(46)(50)(51)(52)
- Main articles: Thomson Line
The forthcoming 30 km Thomson Line (TSL) is tentatively planned to serve 23 stations. The TSL will start from the Marina Bay area and end in the northern part of Singapore. It will pass through the Central Business District, Ang Mo Kio, Sin Ming, Kebun Baru, Thomson, Kim Seng and Woodlands.(46)(53) It will relieve crowding on the North South Line and reduce travel times between Woodlands and the Central Business District. The underground line is expected to be completed by 2018.(46)
Eastern Region Line
- Main articles: Eastern Region Line
The 21 km Eastern Region Line (ERL) is tentatively planned to serve 12 stations. The ERL will probably run from Marina Bay, passing through Tanjong Rhu, Siglap, Marine Parade and Bedok before terminating at Changi.(46)(53) It will generally be parallel to and south of the East West Line. It will help to relieve crowding on the East West Line. The underground line is expected to be completed by 2020.
North South Line Extension
A 1 km one station extension from Marina Bay will be built and completed by 2014. The new Marina South Pier station will be near the upcoming International Cruise Terminal. The completion date will be brought forward to 2014.(54)(55)
Tuas West Extension
The Tuas West Extension is an extension of the East West Line from Joo Koon station, consisting of a 7.5 km long twin tracked MRT viaduct, four above-ground stations, and a depot. The MRT viaduct is to be integrated with a road viaduct along Pioneer Road.
The stations, Gul Circle, Tuas Crescent, Tuas West Road and Tuas Link, will improve MRT connectivity in the Tuas area. Commuters working in the Jurong and Tuas industrial estates will enjoy significantly better public transport and accessibility. Commuters to the Tuas area will benefit from journey-time savings of up to 35 minutes. When operational in 2016, the Tuas West Extension is expected to serve about 100,000 commuters daily. On 7 March 2012, transport minster Lui Tuck Yew told Parliament that, in conjunction with Tuas West Extension, a much larger depot will be built by 2016 to house the additional trains needed to enhance the capacity of the North South and East West Lines.(56)
Four types of rolling stock are used on the North South Line and the East West Line. They are powered by 750-volt DC third rail, operate in sets of six cars,(57)(58)(59) and use an automatic train operation system (ATO).(59)
The majority of the fleet comprises 66 six car C151 trains;(60) these were the oldest trains in operation.(57) They were built between 1986 and 1989 by Kawasaki Heavy Industries in consortium with Nippon Sharyo, Tokyu Car Corporation and Kinki Sharyo for $581.5 million.(57)(61) A $142.7 million refurbishment of these trains' interior were completed in 2009.(62)(63) 19 more six car C651 trains, manufactured by Siemens were purchased in 1994 when the Woodlands extension opened.(64)(65)
21 six car C751B trains manufactured by Kawasaki Heavy Industries and Nippon Sharyo were purchased in 2000 when the Changi Airport Extension opened.(66)(60) The cars have a sleeker design and come with an improved passenger information system, more grab poles, wider seats, more space near the doors and spaces for wheelchairs. Intended for direct service from Boon Lay to Changi Airport, luggage racks were installed for air travellers.(67) However, in April 2002, faulty gearboxes forced all 21 train-sets to be off-service, and the service was temporarily suspended.(68) The direct service was scrapped in July 2003, and the luggage racks were removed.(69)
22 six car C151A trains by a consortium comprising Kawasaki Heavy Industries and CSR Qingdao Sifang Locomotive and Rolling Stock began revenue service in 2011 to bolster capacity along the two lines by 15 percent.(70)
25 six car fully automatic and driverless C751A trains have been running on the North East Line since 2003. These trains are running on 1500 volts direct current supplied via overhead lines and are the first MRT trains in Singapore to incorporate CCTV.(71) Alstom Transportation of France was contracted by the Land Transport Authority in 1997 and 1998 to supply these cars.(72) A further 40 three car fully automatic and driverless C830 trains began operation on the Circle Line on 28 May 2009. Unlike their C751A counterparts, these trains are run on 750-volt DC supplied via third rail.(73)
73 three car fully automatic and driverless C951 trains will run on the Downtown Line in 2013, with initial deliveries scheduled for 2012 and the final deliveries for 2016.(74) These trains will run on 750-volt DC supplied by third rail.
A contract for 18 additional North East Line trains and 16 additional Circle Line trains called Alstom Metropolis C751C and Alstom Metropolis C830C respectively has been awarded to Alstom Transport S.A/Alstom Transport (S) Pte Ltd for $234.9 million and $134 million respectively.(75)(76)
Fares and ticketing
- Main articles: Fares and ticketing on the Mass Rapid Transit (Singapore)
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.(77) These gates, connected to a computer network, can read and update electronic tickets capable of storing data, and can store information such as the initial and destination stations and the duration for each trip.(78) General Ticketing Machines sell tickets for single trips or allow the customer to buy 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.(78) Commuters can choose to extend a trip mid-journey, and pay the difference when they exit their destination station.
Because the rail operators are government-assisted, profit-based corporations, fares on the MRT system are pitched to at least break-even level.(19)(79) The operators collect these fares by selling electronic data-storing tickets, the prices of which are calculated based on the distance between the start and destination stations.(78) These prices increase in fixed stages for standard non-discounted travel. Fares are calculated in increments based on approximate distances between stations, in contrast to the use of fare zones.
Although operated by private companies, the system's fare structure is regulated by the Public Transport Council (PTC), to which the operators submit requests for changes in fares.(79)(80) Fares are kept affordable by pegging them approximately to distance-related bus fares, thus encouraging commuters to use the network and reduce its heavy reliance on the bus system. Fare increases over the past few years have caused public concern,(81) the latest one having taken effect from 1 October 2008.(82) There were similar expressions of disapproval over the slightly higher fares charged on SBS Transit's North East Line, a disparity that SBS Transit justified by citing higher costs of operation and maintenance on a completely underground line, as well as lower patronage.(83)
The ticketing system uses the EZ-Link and NETS FlashPay contactless smart cards based upon the Symphony for e-Payment (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.(84) The EZ-Link card was introduced on 13 April 2002 as a replacement for the original TransitLink farecard, while its competitor the NETS FlashPay card entered the smartcard market on 9 October 2009.
An adult EZ-Link card may be bought for S$12, inclusive of a S$5 non-refundable card cost and a S$7 credit. The card may be obtained at any TransitLink Ticket Office or Passenger Service Centre. The card may also be used for payment for goods and services at merchants displaying the "EZ-Link" logo, Electronic Road Pricing tolls, and Electronic Parking System carparks.(84)(85) Additional credit may be purchased at any General Ticketing Machine (GTM), Add Value Machine (AVM), TransitLink Ticket Office, Passenger Service Centre, AXS Station, DBS/POSB Automatic Teller Machine (ATM), online via a card reader purchased separately, or selected merchants. Additional credit of a predetermined value may also be automatically purchased whenever the card value is low via an automatic recharge service provided by Interbank GIRO or through a manual application at the TransitLink Ticket Office or credit card online. A option for EZ-Link Season Pass for unlimited travel on buses and trains is available for purchase and is non-transferable. Its main competitor, the NETS FlashPay card, may be purchased for at least S$12 for the payment of transport fares in Singapore and at merchants displaying the "NETS FlashPay" logo.
A Standard Ticket contactless smart card for single trips may also be purchased between S$2 and S$4 (inclusive of a S$1 refundable card deposit) for the payment of MRT and LRT fares. The card may be purchased only at the GTM. The deposit may also be retrieved by returning the card to the GTM within 30 days from the date of issue or donated to charity by depositing it in a collection box at any station. This card cannot be recharged with additional credit.
For tourists, a Singapore Tourist Pass contactless smartcard may be purchased from S$18 (inclusive of a S$10 refundable card deposit and a 1-day pass).(86) The card may be bought at selected TransitLink Ticket Offices and Singapore Visitors Centres. The deposit may be retrieved by returning the card to selected TransitLink Ticket Offices and Singapore Visitors Centres within 5 days from the date of issue.
- Main article: Safety on the Mass Rapid Transit (Singapore)
Operators and authorities state that numerous measures have been taken to ensure the safety of passengers, and SBS Transit publicised the safety precautions on the driverless North East Line before and after its opening.(71)(87) Safety campaign posters are highly visible in trains and stations, and the operators frequently broadcast 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.(21)(88) Platform screen doors are installed at all underground stations,(21) with Half-Height Platform Screen Doors (HHPSDs) are built at all above-ground stations. These prevent suicides, enable climate control in stations, and prevent unauthorised access to restricted areas. Under the Rapid Transit Systems Act, acts such as smoking, eating or drinking on stations and trains, the misuse of emergency equipment and trespassing on the railway tracks are illegal, with penalties ranging from fines to imprisonment.(89)(30)
Safety concerns were raised among the public after several accidents on the system during the 1980s and 1990s, but most problems have been rectified. On 5 August 1993, two trains collided at Clementi station because of an oil spillage on the track, which resulted in 132 injuries.(91) 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 on to the railway tracks at above-ground stations. The authorities initially rejected the proposal by casting doubts over functionality and concerns about the high installation costs,(92)</sup> but made an about-turn when the government announced plans to install HHPSDs in a speech on 25 January 2008,(46) citing lower costs due to its becoming a more common feature worldwide.(93) The HHPSDs were first installed on the platforms of Jurong East station (original platforms), Pasir Ris station and Yishun station in 2009 as trials, and all other elevated stations will have platform screen doors installed eventually.(94) On 7 March 2012, Minister for Transport Lui Tuck Yew told Parliament that all remaining elevated stations on NSEWL would be fitted with HHPSDs by March 2012. A preliminary implementation plan for railway noise mitigation is to be developed by the third quarter of 2012.(95)</sup> All above-ground stations are installed with HHPSDs and operational since.(96)
- Main article: Security on the Mass Rapid Transit (Singapore)
Security concerns related to crime and terrorism were not high on the agenda of the system's planners at its inception.(97) However, after the Madrid train bombings in 2004 and the foiled plot to bomb the Yishun Station,(98) the operators deployed private, unarmed guards to patrol station platforms and check the belongings of commuters.(99)
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-capability at all stations and trains operated by SMRT Corporation.(100)(101) Trash bins and mail boxes have been removed from station platforms and concourse levels to station entrances, to eliminate the risk that bombs will be placed in them.(102) Photography without permission was also banned in all MRT stations since the Madrid bombings, but it was not in the official statement in any public transport security reviews.(103)
On 14 April 2005 the Singapore Police Force announced plans to step up rail security by establishing a specialised Police MRT Unit.(104) These armed officers began overt patrols on the MRT and LRT systems on 15 August 2005, conducting random patrols in pairs in and around rail stations and within trains.(105) They are trained and authorised to use their firearms at their discretion, including deadly force if deemed necessary.(106) On 8 January 2006, a major civil exercise involving over 2,000 personnel from 22 government agencies, codenamed Exercise Northstar V, simulating bombing and chemical attacks at Dhoby Ghaut, Toa Payoh, Raffles Place and Marina Bay MRT stations was conducted. Thirteen stations were closed and about 3,400 commuters were affected during the three-hour exercise.(107)
Security concerns were brought up by the public when two incidents of vandalism at train depots occurred within two years.(108) In both incidents, graffiti on the affected trains were discovered after they entered revenue service.(109) The first incident on 17 May 2010 involved a breach in the perimeter fence of Changi Depot and resulted in the imprisonment and caning of a Swiss citizen, and an Interpol arrest warrant for his accomplice. The train involved was C151 047/048.(110)(111) SMRT Corporation received a S$50,000 fine by the Land Transport Authority for the first security breach.(111) Measures were put in place by the Public Transport Security Committee to enhance depot security in light of the first incident, but works were yet to be completed by SMRT Corporation when the second incident on 17 August 2011 involving C751B 311/312, occurred at Bishan Depot.(108)(109)
Rules and Restrictions
Like the rest of Singapore, the MRT has numerous and strict penalties. Eating or drinking on on any mass transit in Singapore results in a $500 fine, while flammable goods result in one totaling $5000. Smoking in any of these locations will cause a $1000 fine.
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|Railway Lines in Singapore||v|
|Mass Rapid Transit (MRT)||North South Line • East West Line • North East Line • Circle Line • Downtown Line • Thomson Line • Eastern Region Line • Jurong Region Line • Cross Island Line|
|Light Rapid Transit (LRT)||Bukit Panjang LRT • Sengkang LRT • Punggol LRT|
|International||Intercity North-South (KTM)|
|Other lines||Changi Airport Skytrain (CAAS) • Jurong Bird Park Panorail (WRS) • Sentosa Express (SDC) • Sentosa Monorail (defunct) (SDC)|
|Mass Rapid Transit (Singapore)||v|
|Overview||History (Nicoll Highway collapse) • Stations • Fares and ticketing • Facilities (STARIS) • Safety • Security (Public Transport Security Command)|
|Lines and stations||Current||North South Line • East West Line • North East Line • Circle Line|
|Under Construction||Downtown Line|
|Future||Thomson Line • Eastern Region Line • Jurong Region Line • Cross Island Line|
|Rolling stock||Kawasaki Heavy Industries C151 • Kawasaki Heavy Industries & CSR Qingdao Sifang C151A • Kawasaki Heavy Industries & CSR Qingdao Sifang C151B • Siemens C651 • Alstom Metropolis C751A • Kawasaki Heavy Industries & Nippon Sharyo C751B • Alstom Metropolis C751C • Alstom Metropolis C830 • Alstom Metropolis C830C • Bombardier MOVIA C951|
|Companies||SBS Transit • SMRT|
|Depots||Bishan • Changi • Gali Batu • Kim Chuan • Mandai • Sengkang • Tuas • Ulu Pandan|