SINGAPORE will spend over a billion dollars upfront to buy 99 new trains from this year till 2019 in a bid to achieve higher rail reliability, Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan wrote in his blog on Wednesday.
The new trains come with improved propulsion systems, and more reliable and durable AC synchronous motors which require less maintenance. Mr Khaw said 57 will be for Singapore's oldest North-South and East-West Line (NSEWL), 18 for the North East Line and 24 for the Circle Line.
"These 99 trains will cost us over a billion dollars upfront, but they will be a worthy investment. They will be more cost effective in the longer run. Most of all, they will help us achieve higher rail reliability,'' he said.
The new NSEWL trains will also have electric train doors that need lower maintenance and will eliminate air leakage problems associated with the older pneumatic doors. The operations data for each train door will be logged and stored for the maintenance crew to pre-empt door faults before they occur.
Rail engineers and technical staff will be posted to the overseas factories where the trains are being built, to monitor the entire assembly process and participate in train testing.
"This also helps our officers gain valuable experience and enhance their technical understanding of the trains,'' Mr Khaw explained.
The minister, who was roped in to help improve Singapore's rail reliability, noted that when external factors such as passenger action are excluded, almost half of the major disruptions on the NSEWL were due to train issues, with other factors such as track or power faults causing the rest.
"As with all machines, as trains age, we must work harder to keep them in good condition. Like those in London and New York, trains can last us twenty years or longer, if they are maintained properly and refurbished at the right time,'' he said.
"Eventually, we must decide when to replace them with new trains. Fortunately, with time, better train models with enhanced reliability features have become available in the market. These trains are also easier to operate and maintain. Adding them to our fleet can therefore make a difference to the overall performance of the rail network and in turn, better our service delivery.''