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North-South, East-West lines to be 'virtually new' by 2019 after upgrading works: SMRT CEO

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Transport operator SMRT Corporation is working with authorities to see how it can speed up upgrading works for the power capacity on its main rail lines.

TRANSPORT operator SMRT Corporation is working with authorities to see how it can speed up upgrading works for the power capacity on its main rail lines.

Until then, this project will only be completed by 2019. By then, the North-South and East-West rail systems will be "virtually new" after all upgrading works have been completed, said SMRT chairman and group chief executive officer Desmond Kuek.

"By the time we have completed all these multi-year projects, we'll see a virtually new North-South and East-West lines, and we expect this to take two to three years before we can complete all our renewal projects," he said.

Mr Kuek detailed the timelines of upgrading projects at a briefing on Friday morning, as SMRT reported that earnings from rail operations swung into the red for financial year 2016. The loss was at S$9.6 million, while there was a profit of S$9.6 million in FY15.

The last to be completed of all these upgrading projects is expected to be the upgrading of the power system.

Mr Kuek on Friday said that SMRT has been working on "power expansion programmes" from last year, and the project is expected to complete by 2019.

But "recent events" have prompted the operator to work with the Land Transport Authority (LTA) to see how they can expedite the process, said Mr Kuek.

On Monday evening at rush hour, a power fault crippled four SMRT lines. The North-South and East-West lines were disrupted for about half an hour, and the Circle Line for about an hour during rush hour, while the Bukit Panjang LRT only functioned after a two-hour delay.

Aside from upgrading its power system, SMRT is also expecting signalling works to be completed for the North-South line by early next year, and in 2018 for the East-West line, said Mr Kuek.

Replacing of sleepers on the tracks for the North-South line have been completed, with those on the East-West line to be replaced by early next year.

Upgrading of the power-supplying third rail system, to be distinguished from the power expansion upgrade, is ongoing, added Mr Kuek.