Mass Rapid Transit (Singapore)
The Mass Rapid Transit, abbreviated and referred to in local parlance as the MRT, is a heavy rail system that constitutes most of the urban and suburban rapid transit network and the wider railway network in Singapore, spanning most of the city-state's main island.[note 1] The first section of the MRT opened on 7 November 1987, and 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 in Singapore, with an average daily ridership of 3.302 million in 2018,[note 2] approximately 82% of the bus network's 4.037 million in the same period.
|Native name||Sistem Pengangkutan Gerak Cepat (Malay)|
சிங்கப்பூர் துரிதக் கடவு ரயில் (Tamil)
|Owner||Land Transport Authority|
|Transit type||Rapid transit|
|Number of lines||9 (5 in operation, 1 under construction, 2 under development and 1 under planning), excluding LRT|
|Number of stations||185 (120 in operation, 63 more under construction or planning, 2 reserved), excluding LRT|
|Daily ridership||3.3 million (2018), excluding LRT|
|Annual ridership||1.2 billion (2018), excluding LRT|
|Began operation||7 November 1987|
|Operator(s)||SMRT Trains (SMRT Corporation)|
SBS Transit (ComfortDelGro Corporation)
|Number of vehicles||397 trainsets (174 on order, 66 to be decommissioned)|
|System length||199.6 km (124.0 mi)|
|Track gauge||1,435 mm (4 ft 8 1⁄2 in) standard gauge|
Singapore's MRT infrastructure is built, operated, and managed in accordance with a quasi-nationalised operating framework, in which the lines are constructed and the assets owned by the Land Transport Authority, a statutory board of the Government of Singapore. The Land Transport Authority allocates operating concessions to for-profit corporations, namely SMRT Corporation and SBS Transit. These operators also run bus and taxi services, thus facilitating the full integration of public transport services.
As of November 2019, the MRT network encompasses 199.6 kilometres (124.0 mi) of route on standard gauge, with 120 stations in operation, spread across five lines. The network is expected to expand to a total length of almost 400 kilometres (250 mi) by 2040 as a result of ongoing lengthening works to existing lines and the construction of new lines. The combined lengths of the fully-automated North East, Circle, and Downtown lines, as well as the upcoming Thomson-East Coast, Jurong Region, and Cross Island lines, confers upon the MRT the distinction of being the metro system with the world's longest fully-automated network. The MRT is complemented by a small number of local Light Rail Transit (LRT) networks in the townships of Bukit Panjang, Sengkang, and Punggol that link MRT stations with HDB public housing estates, bringing the combined length of the domestic heavy and light rail network to 228.2 kilometres (141.8 mi), with 157 stations in operation.[note 3]
- 1 History
- 2 Infrastructure
- 3 Expansion
- 3.1 Downtown line
- 3.2 Thomson–East Coast line
- 3.3 Jurong Region line
- 3.4 Cross Island line
- 3.5 Circle line stage 6
- 3.6 North East line extension
- 3.7 Brickland and Sungei Kadut MRT stations
- 3.8 Proposed new line along north-east corridor
- 4 Fares and ticketing
- 5 Safety
- 6 Performance
- 7 Security
- 8 See also
- 9 References
- 10 External links
The origins of the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) are derived from a forecast by city planners in 1967 which stated the need for a rail-based urban transport system by 1992. Following a debate on whether a bus-only system would be more cost-effective, then Minister for Communications Ong Teng Cheong, 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.
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 SMRT Corporation—was established on 14 October 1983; it took over the roles and responsibilities (which was the construction and operation the MRT system) of the former provisional Mass Rapid Transit Authority. On 7 November 1987, the first section of the North South line started operations, consisting of five stations over six kilometres. Fifteen more stations were opened later, and the MRT system was officially launched on 12 March 1988 by then Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew. Another 21 stations have been added to the system; the opening of Boon Lay on the East West line on 6 July 1990 marked the completion of the system two years ahead of schedule.
The MRT has since been expanded. The first expansion was in 1996, a S$1.2 billion expansion of the North South line into Woodlands, merging the branch line into the North South line and joining Yishun and Choa Chu Kang stations. The concept of having rail lines that bring people almost directly to their homes led to the introduction of the Light Rail Transit (LRT) lines connecting with the MRT network. On 6 November 1999, the first LRT trains on the Bukit Panjang LRT went into operation. The Expo and Changi Airport stations were opened on 10 January 2001 and 8 February 2002 respectively. The North East line, the first line operated by SBS Transit, opened on 20 June 2003, one of the first fully automated heavy rail lines in the world. On 15 January 2006, after intense two-and-a-half years lobbying by the public, Buangkok station was opened. On 20 June 2011, Woodleigh station was opened. The Boon Lay Extension of the East West line, consisting of Pioneer and Joo Koon stations, opened on 28 February 2009. The Circle line opened in four stages with Stage 3 on 28 May 2009, Stages 1 and 2 on 17 April 2010, Stages 4 and 5 on 8 October 2011 and the Marina Bay Extension on 14 January 2012. Stage 1 of Downtown line opened on 22 December 2013 with its official opening made on 21 December 2013 by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. Stage 2 opened on 27 December 2015, after being officially opened on 26 December by Prime Minister Lee. The Tuas West Extension of the East West line, consisting of Gul Circle, Tuas Crescent, Tuas West Road, and Tuas Link stations, opened on 18 June 2017. Stage 3, the final stage of the Downtown line, opened on 21 October 2017 with its official opening made on 20 October 2017 by Coordinating Minister for Infrastructure and Minister for Transport Khaw Boon Wan. The second infill station, Canberra station was operational on 2 November 2019.
The following table lists the Mass Rapid Transit lines that are currently operational:
|Name and color||Commencement||Last extension||Next extension||Terminus||Stations||Length||Depot||Operator||Control Center|
|North South Line||7 November 1987||2 November 2019[note 4]||2030s[note 5]||Jurong East
Marina South Pier
|27||45 km (28 mi)||Bishan Depot
Ulu Pandan Depot
|SMRT Trains (SMRT Corporation)||Kim Chuan Depot|
|East West Line||12 December 1987||18 June 2017[note 6]||N/A||Pasir Ris
|35||57.2 km (35.5 mi)|
|Circle Line||28 May 2009||14 January 2012[note 7]||2025[note 8]||Dhoby Ghaut
|30[note 9]||35.5 km (22.1 mi)||Kim Chuan Depot|
|Subtotal (lines under SMRT Trains):||92||137.7 km (85.6 mi)|
|North East Line||20 June 2003||20 June 2011[note 10]||2023[note 11]||HarbourFront
|16||20 km (12 mi)||Sengkang Depot||SBS Transit (ComfortDelGro Corporation)||Sengkang Depot|
|Downtown Line||22 December 2013||21 October 2017[note 12]||2024[note 13]||Bukit Panjang
|34||41.9 km (26.0 mi)||Tai Seng Facility Building
Gali Batu Depot
|Gali Batu Depot|
|Subtotal (lines under SBS Transit):||50||61.9 km (38.5 mi)|
|Total:||120[note 14]||199.6 km (124.0 mi)|
Facilities and servicesEdit
Except for the partly at-grade Bishan MRT station (North South line), the entirety of the MRT is elevated or underground. Most below-ground stations are deep and hardened enough to withstand conventional aerial bomb attacks and to serve as bomb shelters. Mobile phone, 3G and 4G service are available in every part of the network. Underground stations and trains are air-conditioned, while above-ground stations have ceiling fans installed.
Every station is equipped with General Ticketing Machines (GTMs), a Passenger Service Centre and LED or plasma displays that show train service information and announcements. All stations are equipped with restrooms and payphones; some restrooms are located at street level. Some stations, especially the major ones, have additional amenities and services, such as retail shops and kiosks, supermarkets, convenience stores, automatic teller machines, and self-service automated kiosks for a variety of services. Most heavy-duty escalators at stations carry passengers up or down at a rate of 0.75 m/s, which is 50% faster than conventional escalators. The Land Transport Authority (LTA) announced a plan to introduce dual speeds to escalators along the North South and East West lines, to make it safer for senior citizens using them. As a result, all escalators on the two lines, through a refurbishment programme, will be able to operate at a different speed of 0.5 m/s during off-peak hours, with completion being targeted for 2021.
All stations on the North South line (NSL) & stations constructed before 2001 on the East West line (EWL) initially did not have barrier-free facilities and wider AFC faregates such as lifts, ramps & tactile guidance systems for the elderly and disabled, thus preventing disabled persons from entering the buses or trains, and they relied on cars, taxicabs or vans to get to their destination. Stations along the NSL & EWL later underwent retrofitting programmes and by 2006, all stations provided at least one barrier-free access route. Works are still ongoing to provide stations with additional barrier-free facilities.
Hours of operationEdit
MRT lines operate from 5:30am to 1:00am daily, with the exception of selected periods such as New Year's Eve, Chinese New Year, Deepavali, Hari Raya, Christmas, eves of public holidays, and special occasions such as the state funeral of Lee Kuan Yew (2015), when most of the lines stay open throughout the night or extended till later.
The following table lists the rolling stock of the network:
|Total no. of cars||Service commencement||Power supply||Speed Limit||Price|
|C151||Kawasaki Heavy Industries||NSL
|6||396||7 November 1987||750 V DC
|80 km/h (50 mph)||S$581.5 million|
|C651||Siemens||114||2 May 1995||S$259 million|
|C751B||Kawasaki Heavy Industries
& Nippon Sharyo
|126[a]||8 May 2000||S$231 million|
|C151A||Kawasaki Heavy Industries
& CRRC Qingdao Sifang
|210||27 May 2011||S$368 million|
|C151B||270||16 April 2017||S$281.5 million|
|C151C||72||30 September 2018||$136.8 million|
|C751A||Alstom||NEL||150||20 June 2003||1500 V DC
|90 km/h (56 mph)||$260 million|
|C751C||108||1 October 2015||S$234.9 million|
|C830||CCL||3||120||28 May 2009||750 V DC
|78 km/h (48 mph)||S$282 million|
|C830C||72||26 June 2015||S$134 million|
|NEL||6||36||2020s||1500 V DC
|90 km/h (56 mph)|
|C951/C951A||Bombardier||DTL||3||276||22 December 2013||750 V DC
|80 km/h (50 mph)||S$689.9 million[b]|
|CT251||Kawasaki Heavy Industries
& CRRC Qingdao Sifang
|TEL||4||364||2020||90 km/h (56 mph)||S$749 million|
At present, all lines run with fixed-length trains between three and six cars, with the future Thomson–East Coast line using four cars. Since the system's conception in 1987, all train lines have been powered by the 750 volt DC third rail, with the exception of the North East Line which is powered by 1500 volt DC overhead lines. The North South and East West lines use an automatic train operation system similar to London Underground's Victoria line.
No rolling stock has been completely scrapped since service began, with the oldest C151 trains operating since the inauguration of the MRT System in 1987. Older trains have been renewed over the years under refurbishment schemes to enhance their lifespan as well as to adhere to updated safety and usability codes. Refurbished and new trains have improved passenger information systems such as the SMRT Active Route Map Information System, more grab poles, wider seats, more space near the doors, spaces for wheelchairs, and CCTV cameras. As a trial run, luggage racks were installed on the C751B trains to serve travellers on the Changi Airport branch line. The scheme was withdrawn in June 2002 and the luggage racks removed.
All trains are contracted by open tender, with their contract numbers forming the most recognised name of the stock. Official sources occasionally refer to the trains of the North South and East West lines as numbered generation trains, with the C151 train being the first and the newest C151C train being the sixth.
In addition to aforementioned passenger electric multiple units, MRT operators also have their own engineering rolling stock used for maintenance purposes. These include Plasser and Theurer tamping machines, Tamper multi-function vehicles for rail inspection, Speno railgrinders, cranes, tunnel cleaning wagons, viaduct inspection wagons, CKG diesel locomotives for shunting purposes and Deli diesel locomotives and Schöma electric locomotives for hauling such rolling stock.
All Mass Rapid Transit lines are capable of automatic train operation without operator intervention.
The oldest lines, the North South line and East West line, were the only lines running with fixed block signalling. The North South Line was upgraded to moving block CBTC in 2017, and the East West line upgraded in 2018. As of 27 May 2018, all MRT lines use the CBTC Moving Block system in normal daily operations and from 2 January 2019, the old signalling system ceased operations.
All new MRT lines built since the North East line in 2003 were equipped with CBTC from the outset, and have the capability to be completely driverless and automated, requiring no on-board staffing. Operations are monitored remotely from the operations control centre of the respective lines. Trains are equipped with intercoms to allow passengers to communicate with staff during emergencies.
|Line||Supplier||Solution||Type [note 15]||Commission Date||Level of Automation[note 16]||Remarks|
|North South Line||Thales||SelTrac||Moving Block CBTC||2017||DTO||BrownField|
|East West line||2018|
|North East line||Alstom||Urbalis 300||2003||UTO||N/A|
|Downtown line||Siemens, formerly Invensys Westinghouse||Sirius CBTC||2013|
East Coast line
|Alstom, formerly GE||Urbalis 400||2020|
|North South line||Westinghouse||FS2000||Fixed Block-Speed Coded||1987||STO||Deactivated on 2 January 2019|
|East West line||Deactivated on 23 November 2018|
SMRT Corporation has four train depots: Bishan Depot is the central maintenance depot for the North South Line with train overhaul facilities, while Changi Depot and Ulu Pandan Depot inspect and house trains overnight. The newer Tuas Depot, opened in 2017, provides the East West Line with its own maintenance facility. The underground Kim Chuan Depot houses trains for the Circle line and Downtown line, now jointly managed by the two operators.
SBS Transit has three depots: Sengkang Depot houses trains for the North East line, the Sengkang LRT line, and the Punggol LRT line. Kim Chuan Depot is currently jointly operated with SMRT for the Downtown line. Major operations were shifted to the main Gali Batu Depot in 2015, although the Kim Chuan Depot will continue to operate on a minor capacity.
In August 2014, plans for the East Coast Integrated Depot, the world's first four-in-one train and bus depot were announced. It will be built at Tanah Merah beside the original Changi Depot site to serve the East West, Downtown, and Thomson–East Coast lines. The new 36ha depot can house about 220 trains and 550 buses and integrating the depot for both buses and trains will help save close to 66.12 acres (26.76 ha), or 60 football fields of land.
The Tengah Depot for the Jurong Region line will be situated at the western perimeter of Tengah, and an additional depot facility will be added near Peng Kang Hill station to support the operations of the JRL. Rolling stock for the Jurong Region Line will be stabled at both facilities. Tengah Depot will house the JRL Operations Control Centre and have a bus depot integrated with it to optimise land use.
An Integrated Rail Testing Centre comprising of several test tracks for different situations and workshops for maintenance and refurbishment is also to be built at Tuas by 2022, with the main function being to test trains and integrated systems robustly before they are deployed on operational lines.
Architecture and artEdit
Early stages of the MRT's construction paid scant attention to station design, with an emphasis on functionality over aesthetics. This is particularly evident in the first few stages of the North South and East West lines that opened between 1987 and 1988 from Yio Chu Kang to Clementi. An exception to this was Orchard, chosen by its designers to be a "showpiece" of the system and built initially with a domed roof. Architectural themes became more important only in subsequent stages, and resulted in such designs as the cylindrical station shapes on all stations between Kallang and Pasir Ris except Eunos, and west of Boon Lay, and the perched roofs at Boon Lay, Lakeside, Chinese Garden, Bukit Batok, Bukit Gombak, Choa Chu Kang, Khatib, Yishun, and Eunos stations.
Art pieces, where present, are seldom highlighted; they primarily consist of a few paintings or sculptures representing the recent past of Singapore, mounted in major stations. The opening of the Woodlands Extension introduced bolder pieces of artwork, such as a 4,000 kg sculpture in Woodlands. With the opening of the North East MRT line, more series of artworks created under a programme called "The Art In Transit" were commissioned by the Land Transport Authority. Created by 19 local artists and integrated into the stations' interior architecture, these works 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. All stations on the North East, Circle and Downtown lines come under this programme. An art contest was held to implement a similar scheme for the Circle line.
The Expo MRT station, located on the Changi Airport Branch Line (CAL) of the East West Line, is adjacent to the 100,000-square-metre 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-metre 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.
Changi Airport, the easternmost station on the MRT network, has the widest platform in any underground MRT station in Singapore. In 2011, it was rated 10 out of 15 most beautiful subway stops in the world by BootsnAll.
Two Circle line stations—Bras Basah and Stadium—were commissioned through the Marina line Architectural Design Competition, which was jointly organised by the Land Transport Authority and the Singapore Institute of Architects. The competition did not require any architectural experience from competitors 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.
The MRT system relied on its two main lines, the North South and East West lines, 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 publication of a White Paper titled "A World Class Land Transport System" in 1996 galvanised the government's intentions to greatly expand the system. It called for the expansion of the 67 kilometres of track in 1995 to 360 in 2030. It was expected that daily ridership in 2030 would grow to 6.0 million from the 1.4 million passengers at that time.
On 17 January 2013, the new rail lines and existing line extensions were announced, superior to the announcement of the Land Transport Master Plan 2013. This has since been succeeded by the Land Transport Master Plan 2040 on 25 May 2019, which provides for line extensions to Downtown MRT Line and Thomson-East Coast MRT Line, a new MRT line under study, and 2 new stations on the North South MRT Line.
The following table lists Mass Rapid Transit lines and stations that are currently under testing, construction, or that are in the planning stages:
The 42-kilometre, 34 station fully underground Downtown line (DTL), commenced operations in stages, with Stage 1 opening in 2013, Stage 2 in 2015, and Stage 3 in 2017. Stage 3e from Expo to Sungei Bedok will begin operations in 2024, and add another 2.2 kilometres and 2 stations to the line. In addition, Hume MRT station was announced on 7 March 2019 as an infill station on stage 2 of DTL, and is expected to open by 2025. By the time Hume is opened, the entire line will be 44 kilometres long and have 37 stations in total.
On 25 May 2019, the LTA also announced that the line is to be extended from Bukit Panjang towards Sungei Kadut, to form an interchange station with the North South Line. The extension is expected to be completed by the mid-2030s.
Thomson–East Coast lineEdit
The 43-kilometre, 32 station fully underground Thomson–East Coast line will connect the northern region of Singapore to the south, running parallel to the existing North South Line passing through Woodlands, Sin Ming, Upper Thomson, and Marina Bay before turning east and running through Tanjong Rhu, Siglap, Marine Parade, and Bedok. The line will commence operation in five stages, with Stage 1 from Woodlands North to Woodlands South by end-January 2020, Stage 2 from Springleaf to Caldecott in 2020, Stage 3 from Mount Pleasant to Gardens by the Bay in 2021, Stage 4 from Tanjong Rhu to Bayshore in 2023 and Stage 5 from Bedok South to Sungei Bedok in 2024. The northern terminus of Woodlands North is also expected to interchange with the Johor Bahru–Singapore Rapid Transit System to provide access to Johor Bahru and the future Iskandar Malaysia Bus Rapid Transit. The Land Transport Authority announced on 11 August 2017 that the line will be the first new cashless line after the existing lines were converted by 12 December 2018.
Line extension to Changi AirportEdit
In addition to the previously announced alignment of the Thomson–East Coast line, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) announced an extension to Changi Airport, with the line passing through Terminal 5, and eventually absorbing the existing Changi Airport branch on the East West Line. With such an extension, there will be a direct connection between Changi Airport and the city. This extension will start operating by 2040.
Jurong Region lineEdit
First proposed as a LRT line when originally announced in 2001, the 20-kilometre Jurong Region Line has since been upgraded to be a medium capacity line after the project was revived in 2013. The new configuration will serve West Coast, Tengah and Choa Chu Kang and Jurong.
West Coast extensionEdit
Besides the original announced alignment of the line, a West Coast extension to the Circle line from the Jurong Region line is currently under study. It links the West Coast region directly to Pasir Panjang, allowing commuters on the Jurong Region line access to the central area of the city easily. If feasible, the extension would be ready by 2030. However, the West coast extension was not mentioned in the LTMP 2040.
Cross Island lineEdit
The 50-kilometre Cross Island Line will span the island of Singapore, passing through Tuas, Jurong, Sin Ming, Ang Mo Kio, Hougang, Punggol, Pasir Ris, and Changi. The addition of the new line brings commuters with another alternative for East-West travel to the current East West line and Downtown line, and will play an important role in Singapore's rail network. It will connect to all the other major lines to serve as a key transfer line, complementing the role currently fulfilled by the orbital Circle line. Stage 1 of the line has been announced and consists of 29 kilometres and 12 stations. In addition, the extension to Punggol is planned to be completed by 2031. Completion of the line will have an even longer timeframe due to the environmental study aspects, targeted to be completed by 2030.
The CRL is the eighth MRT line, and the longest fully underground line. When fully completed, it will serve existing and future developments in the eastern, western, and north-eastern corridors, linking major hubs such as Jurong Lake District, Punggol Digital District and Changi region. The projected daily ridership of the entire CRL is more than 600,000 in the initial years, increasing to over 1 million in the longer term.
Circle line stage 6Edit
To be completed by 2025, the 4-kilometre extension will run from Marina Bay through Keppel, ending at HarbourFront, effectively 'completing the circle'. On 29 October 2015, the LTA announced the 3 station locations for the 'Circle Line stage 6'. The stations are Keppel, Cantonment, and Prince Edward Road.
North East line extensionEdit
Originally scheduled to be completed by 2030, the 1.6-kilometre extension will run from Punggol through Punggol North including the new Punggol Downtown. The extension is for future residents in Punggol North to have train access to the city centre as well as other parts of Singapore. On 7 June 2017, it was announced by Second Minister for Transport Ng Chee Meng that the North East line extension will open in 2023 instead, a few years ahead of the expected opening date. The single station extension will span 1.6 km and will serve the future Punggol North area. The station is tentatively named Punggol Coast. Construction of the extension commenced in the first half of 2018.
Brickland and Sungei Kadut MRT stationsEdit
On 25 May 2019, the LTA announced two new stations to be built along the existing North South Line. Brickland MRT station will be built between Bukit Gombak and Choa Chu Kang stations, while Sungei Kadut MRT station will be built between Yew Tee and Kranji stations. Both stations are expected to be completed by the mid-2030s.
Proposed new line along north-east corridorEdit
As part of the LTA's Land Transport Master Plan (LTMP) 2040, a possible new rail line will be studied for feasibility. The proposed line will run from the Woodlands planning area to the Greater Southern Waterfront, passing through areas such as Sembawang, Sengkang, Serangoon North, Whampoa and Kallang. The line will potentially benefit 400,000 households and save up to 40 minutes of travel time to the city centre. If built, the line will be about 30 km long, and will be completed as early as 2040.
Fares and ticketingEdit
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, also known as access control gates. 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. General Ticketing Machines sell standard tickets that can be used up to 6 times within 30 days from the day of purchase. The machines also allow the customer to buy additional value for stored-value smartcards. Such smartcards 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 for most interchange stations, even when transferring between lines operated by different companies. 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. 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. 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 in other subway systems, such as the London Underground.
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. Fares are kept affordable by pegging them approximately to distance-related bus fares, thus encouraging commuters to use the network and reduce heavy reliance on the bus system. Fare increases have caused public concern. Historically, fares on the fully underground North East, Circle, and Downtown lines had been higher than those of the North South and East West lines (NSEWL), a disparity that was justified by citing higher costs of operation and maintenance on a completely underground line. However, the Public Transport Council (PTC) announced in 2016 that fares for the three underground lines would be reduced to match those on the NSEWL, which took effect along with the yearly-applied fare changes, on 30 December 2016.
After the opening of Downtown Line Stage 3, Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan announced that public transport fare rules will be reviewed to allow for transfers across MRT lines at different stations due to the increasing density of the rail network. At the time, commuters were charged a second time when they made such transfers. He added that the PTC would review distance-based fare transfer rules to ensure they continue to facilitate "fast, seamless" public transport journeys. The review of distance-based fare rules on MRT lines was completed, and a waiver on the second boarding fee incurred when making such transfers was announced on 22 March 2018. The scheme was implemented on 29 December of the same year.
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. 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.
A stored value adult EZ-Link or NETS FlashPay branded CEPAS card may be purchased at any TransitLink Ticket Office or Passenger Service Centre. The CEPAS card may be used for the payment of MRT, LRT and bus fares. The CEPAS card may also be used for payment for goods and services at selected merchants, Electronic Road Pricing tolls, and Electronic Parking System carparks. Additional credit may be purchased via cash, NETS and credit card at various places –
- General Ticketing Machines (GTM) (gradually phasing out cash)
Additional credit may be purchased via cashless payments at various places –
- Add Value Machine
- DBS/POSB/OCBC/UOB Automatic Teller Machines
Additional credit may be purchased via cash at various places –
- TransitLink Ticket Office
- Convenience stores
Additional credit of a predetermined value may also be automatically credited into the card when the card value runs low via an automatic recharge service provided by Interbank GIRO or credit card. An Adult Monthly Travel Card for unlimited travel on MRT, LRT, and buses may also be purchased and is non-transferable.
Since 4 April 2019, Mastercard users are able to use their bank cards or mobile phones to pay for public transport rides, by linking their card to the new SimplyGo account-based system. The system will support Visa cards from 6 June 2019, and other travel cards will be able to use the system by the end of the year.
A Standard Ticket contactless smart card for single or return journeys may also be purchased at the GTM for the payment of MRT and LRT fares. A S$0.10 deposit is levied on top of the fare to be paid. The deposit will be automatically refunded through an offset of the fare to be paid for the third journey on the same ticket while an additional discount of S$0.10 will be given for the sixth journey on the same ticket. No refund of the deposit is provided if the card is used for fewer than 3 journeys. The ticket can be used for the purchase of single or return journeys to and from pre-selected stations up to a maximum of six journeys over 30 days. Fares for the Standard Ticket are always higher than those charged for the stored-valued CEPAS (EZ-Link and NETS FlashPay) cards for the same distance traveled. The ticket is retained by the user after each journey and does not need to be returned to any GTM or Passenger Service Centre. Identical to the usage of CEPAS cards, the ticket is tapped onto the faregate reader upon entry and exit.
For tourists, a Singapore Tourist Pass contactless smartcard may be purchased. The card may be bought at selected TransitLink Ticket Offices and Singapore Visitors Centres. The tourists may retrieve their deposit by returning the card to the ticket offices or visitors centres within 5 days from the date of issue.
Operators and authorities state that numerous measures had 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. 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.
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 onto the railway tracks at above-ground stations. Underground stations already featured platform screen doors since 1987. The authorities initially rejected the proposal by casting doubts over functionality and concerns about the high installation costs, but made an about-turn when the government announced plans to install half-height platform screen doors on the above-ground stations in January 2008, citing lower costs due to it becoming a more common feature worldwide. They were first installed at Jurong East, Pasir Ris, and Yishun stations in 2009 under trials to test their feasibility.
By 14 March 2012, all elevated stations have been retrofitted with the doors and are operational. These doors prevent suicides and unauthorised access to restricted areas. Under the Rapid Transit Systems Act, acts such as smoking, eating or drinking in stations and trains, the misuse of emergency equipment and trespassing on the railway tracks are illegal, with penalties ranging from fines to imprisonment.
There were a few major accidents in the history of the MRT that raised safety concerns among the public. On 5 August 1993, two trains collided at Clementi station because of an oil spillage on the track, which resulted in 132 injuries. During the construction of the Circle line on 20 April 2004, a tunnel being constructed under Nicoll Highway collapsed and led to the deaths of four people. On 15 November 2017, at 8:20 a.m., two trains collided at Joo Koon MRT station, injuring 36 passengers and 2 SMRT staff.
Disruptions to the system from 2011 to 2018, the cause of which often being cited by a lack of maintenance coupled with increased ridership due to population growth, have also raised concerns among the public.
Beginning with the major train disruptions on the North South Line in 2011, this incident led to a Committee of Inquiry, which uncovered serious shortcomings in SMRT Corporation's maintenance regime. For the December 2011 disruptions, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) imposed a maximum punishment of S$2 million on SMRT (approximately US$1.526 million) for the two train disruptions along the North South line (NSL) on 15 and 17 December 2011. A Committee of Inquiry discovered shortcomings in the maintenance regime and checks, prompting then-CEO Saw Phaik Hwa to resign. Since then, every MRT line had since been plagued with disruptions of various degrees of severity.
A much larger power-related incident than the December 2011 event occurred on 7 July 2015, when train services on both the North South and East West lines were shut down in both directions following a major power trip. The disruption lasted for more than 3 hours, affecting 250,000 commuters. This was considered the worst disruption to the MRT network since it first began operations in 1987 – surpassing the December 2011 event. Independent experts from Sweden and Japan were hired to conduct investigation into the cause of the disruption. The cause was identified as damage to a third rail insulator due to a water leak at Tanjong Pagar station. Consequently, a program was implemented to replace insulators liable to similar failure. For the July 2015 disruption, LTA imposed a higher penalty of S$5.4 million on SMRT.
On 22 March 2016, a fatal accident occurred off Pasir Ris MRT station. Two of SMRT's track-maintenance trainee staff were lethally run over by an approaching C151 at a signalling box of the station. They were part of a technical team of 15 staff led by a supervisor and were asked to go down to the tracks to investigate an alarm triggered by a possible signalling equipment fault close by Pasir Ris station. The operator said the team had permission to access the tracks, but did not coordinate with a signal unit in the Pasir Ris station control to ensure train captains in the area where the team was exercised caution while pulling into Pasir Ris station. This incident resulted in a 2.5 hour service delay between Tanah Merah and Pasir Ris Stations, affecting at least 10,000 commuters.
Impact and criticismEdit
While Singaporeans began to notice some issues with the MRT system in terms of overcrowding, the December 2011 disruptions brought the state of public transportation as a whole to national and international prominence. LTA also noted a marked increase in dissatisfaction with public transport with the release of the 2012 Public Transport Customer Satisfaction Survey, and promised government action to deal with issues relating to MRT and LRT disruptions.
The government reviewed the penalties for train disruptions, and made travel free available for all bus services passing MRT stations affected during any train disruptions. Exits were also made free.
To increase satisfaction with the public transport, free morning off-peak travel, later changed to a discount, was introduced while improvements are ongoing.
Despite efforts to step up maintenance efforts, on 7 October 2017, a poorly maintained float and pump system at Bishan station caused a tunnel flood from a torrential rainstorm. It was the worst train disruption since 2011 and the first ever flooding incident in MRT history that lasted almost a day, disrupting services underground. This also resulted in further loss of public confidence and a huge debate among netizens and Singaporeans about the “high rankings” that manage the system, with calls being made for the resignation of Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan. Urban transport expert Dr Park Byung Joon has said that the negligence displayed by SMRT in this regard is tantamount to a criminal offence, after an internal investigation found that the maintenance crew of the Bishan Station's pump system had submitted maintenance records for nearly a year without actually carrying out the works.
Despite these setbacks, efforts in both maintenance and renewal are starting to pay off with the MRT system clocking an average of 690,000km between delays in 2018 - 3.8 times better than in 2017. The North South MRT Line, which was hit by the tunnel flood in 2017, in particular saw its train-km between delays increase by ten-fold from 89,000km between delays in 2017 to 894,000km in 2018. By July 2019, the Mean Kilometres Between Failure (MKBF) for the East West MRT Line and the North South MRT Line had jumped to 700,000km and 1,400,000km respectively, with the latter now on par with the Mass Transit Railway and Taipei Metro. In fact, the new challenges encountered by the Government was now on keeping the funding of the renewals required sustainable.
Security concerns related to crime and terrorism were not high on the agenda of the system's planners at its inception. After the Madrid train bombings in 2004 and the foiled plot to bomb the Yishun MRT station in 2001, the operators deployed private, unarmed guards to patrol station platforms and conduct checks on the belongings of commuters, especially those carrying bulky items.
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. Trash bins and mail boxes have been removed from station platforms and concourse levels to station entrances, to eliminate the risk of bombs planted in them. 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.
On 14 April 2005 the Singapore Police Force announced plans to step up rail security by establishing a specialised security unit for public transport, the unit today is known as the Public Transport Security Command or more commonly known as TRANSCOM. 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. They are trained and authorised to use their firearms at their discretion, including deadly force if deemed necessary. 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.
Security concerns were brought up by the public when two incidents of vandalism at train depots occurred within two years. In both incidents, graffiti on the affected trains was discovered after they entered revenue service. 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 set 047/048, a C151 train. SMRT Corporation received a S$50,000 fine by the Land Transport Authority for the first security breach. 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, occurred at Bishan Depot.
On 22 November 2012, the Land Transport Authority carried out a ground deployment exercise with SMRT to test their incident management plans in the event of a train service disruption. In total, about 135 personnel including representatives from the Singapore Police Force's Transport Command (TransCom) and SBS Transit participated in the exercise. Train service continued as per normal and commuters were not affected by the exercise. Codenamed 'Exercise Greyhound', the exercise went through the scenario of a broken rail on the East West line at Buona Vista. SMRT had also activated their Rail Incident Management Plan.
On 22 August 2013, ‘Exercise Greyhound 2013’ was carried out by the Land Transport Authority with SBS Transit to validate the procedures of SBST's Operations Control Centre (OCC) and the workability of its contingency plans for bus bridging, free bus service and deployment of Goodwill Ambassadors (GAs) during a simulated prolonged train service disruption. About 300 personnel including representatives from LTA, SBST, SMRT, the Singapore Police Force's Transport Command (TransCom), Traffic Police and Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) participated in the exercise. Train service continued as per normal and commuters were not affected by the exercise.
- Singapore's rapid transit network consists of two distinct systems, chiefly the MRT system, which falls entirely within the city-state and forms the core of the network, and the planned two-station cross-border Johor Bahru–Singapore rapid transit system, which is expected to open in the mid-2020s and will link to the mainline MRT.
The two rapid transit systems are part of a wider railway network, which includes one currently-operational cross-border intercity service from Singapore's Woodlands Train Checkpoint to Malaysia, as well as the planned Kuala Lumpur–Singapore high-speed rail system. Together, these four railway systems constitute the entirety of the heavy rail network in Singapore.
- Excluding ridership figures for the Light Rail Transit (LRT).
- Excluding privatised light rail and people mover systems that operate outside of the purview of the state and are thus not part of the mainline public transportation network, like the Sentosa Express and the Changi Airport Skytrain.
- Canberra infill station
- Sungei Kadut and Brickland infill stations
- Tuas West extension
- Circle Line extension
- Circle Line Stage 6
- Excluding Bukit Brown MRT Station, which is not in operation
- Woodleigh station
- North East Line extension
- Downtown Line Stage 3
- Downtown Line Stage 3e
- Excluding duplicating interchange stations.
- Fixed Block = Conventional Fixed Block using Line of Sight. Fixed Block-Speed Coded = Fixed Block using Coded Track Circuits. DTG-TC = Fixed Block-Distance to Go using Track Circuits. DTG-R = Fixed-Block-Distance-to-Go using Radio. Moving Block TBTC = Moving Block using Induction Loops. Moving Block CBTC = Moving Block using Radio.
- UTO = Unattended Train Operation. DTO = Driverless Train Operation. STO = Semi-automated Operation Mode
- Station added onto operational line
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