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You may have recently seen a post about someone combining clips of the North South and East West MRT Lines (NSEWL) synced to the opening music of Girls und Panzer.

【鉄道PV】 SMRT 南北·東西線 Dreamriser - YouTube

This person is none other than one of our SGTrains team member, Brian Ngauw. Brian has been a train enthusiast for almost 9 years now, and his other hobby involves watching and discussing about Japanese anime. We had a short question and answer to learn more about him in person!

What is the video all about, and what inspired you to make that video?
This PV features trains from the NSEWL moving to the beat of the song Dreamriser. Now more famously known to most people as the SMRT anime, this video tries to bring out our trains daily operations in views which people generally don’t tend to look at our trains from. The inspiration of the video came after watching various 鉄道PVs on Youtube, mostly featuring a particular line or railway company in Japan, and I thought, why not try doing something equivalent for Singapore’s network? This led to the long journey of the initial song selection, the recce of locations where scenes can be shot, and the “storyboard” for the video project. I did create a “TV size” version, a 1 minute 30 seconds long version typically used in the actual anime opening, to test the water before deciding on creating the full 4-minute version.

【鉄道PV】烈車戦隊トウキョウジャー [JR東日本 首都圏MAD×烈車戦隊トッキュウジャー] - YouTube
One of the few popular 鉄道PVs uploaded onto YouTube.

What is it about trains that inspired you to become a train enthusiast?
One of the things that got me interested was the sounds produced during the trains’ acceleration and deceleration, known affectionately as motor sounds, which range from low pitched hums to musical tones and vary with different models of trains. This curiosity led me to read more about the different systems used in trains, and it progressively built up into the love that I have now for this hobby!

What are some of the places in the video that you feel is the best angle to snap the NSEWL?
The scenes and angles in this video are pretty limited and feature mostly Ang Mo Kio and Tanah Merah stations. My next upcoming PV will feature more locations, and it does include my personal favourite spot near Bukit Gombak! If I do have to make a choice though, it would be at Tanah Merah!

Is there something about Girls und Panzer that captures your attention, and to use that anime’s opening instead of other anime?
While my choice to Girls und Panzer may have been biased since it was a favourite of mine, I had compared other songs to Dreamriser during the selection process, and those were STRAIGHT JET (Infinite Stratos), LEVEL 5 -judgelight- (A Certain Scientific Railgun), and GO! GO! MANIAC (K-On!!). Ultimately I chose Dreamriser as it had an easier tempo to work with, and was much easier to fit scenes in as compared to the other 3 songs.

Girls und Panzer Opening - YouTube

Out of all the animes that you have watched, which are your favourite one, and another that you would recommend?
While Girls und Panzer still lives as one of my favourite anime to date, I would say my favourite would be Sound! Euphonium, an anime about a group of girls and their journey in the school’s concert band club to bring them to qualify in the national concert band competition. The show brought me to explore Uji City in Kyoto personally twice, as well as to catch a concept train made specially for a collaboration with the anime!

If you’ve missed one of our videos last year, we did something similar to a railway PV too! Technically, it’s a PV for the launch of the Circle Line route and train add-ons for the openBVE train simulator a year ago. Check it out below!

BVESG Train Simulator: Circle Line - YouTube

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2018 had been a rather quiet year for the rail network with only the introduction of new trains with tip-up seats on the North South Line, without any new rail line or extensions opening.

The amount of breakdowns have been reduced significantly thanks to MRT stations closing early and opening late every month to speed up the maintenance work to improve rail reliability to allow passengers to have a more comfortable ride.

Here’s a list of the upcoming events of the rail network in 2019!

Enhanced Transfer Rules

At the end of 2018, the fare review exercise introduced a six cents increased in adult card fares for both trains and buses. However, a new rule has also been added into the system which can introduce significant time and cost savings when combining multiple train trips in a single journey.

The new rule states that you will now be able make multiple rail transfers within a single journey, and if transferring between two train stations, you will need to tap in within 15 minutes of tapping out from the previous station. This will encourage walking between stations that are within minutes away to shorten journey time and cost.

Opening of the sixth MRT Line

The first stage of the Thomson-East Coast Line (TEL) – Woodlands North, Woodlands Interchange and Woodlands South – will open for passenger service in the last quarter of 2019. The TEL1 primarily serves as a feeder connection within Woodlands.

TEL Stage 1 will connect residents of Woodlands South and Woodlands North to the renovated Woodlands Regional Bus Interchange as well as the North South Line.

As with new MRT lines, the TEL will be a fully underground and automated rapid transit line. When fully completed, it will span 43km with 31 stations. The TEL will serve as an alternative to the North South Line (NSL) from Woodlands to Marina Bay, while providing new access to the train network for commuters in the East Coast area.

Additional North South Line station

Constructions of the new Canberra station between Yishun and Sembawang on the North South Line is also expected to be completed in the last quarter of 2019, together with TEL1. This station will be the second elevated station constructed on an existing line and will utilise side platforms, similar to Dover station of the East West Line. The station will feature five exits, linking it to the new housing estate across Canberra Link via a direct bridge that connects to the southbound platform.

Full day closures were also implemented during the Jurong East Modification Project back in 2011.

Full Weekend Closure on the North South Line

In order to modify and construct a 72-metres long crossover track near Canberra station, a full weekend closure on the North South Line will be required in the second quarter of 2019. It is highly expected that this will happen during the Vesak Day long weekend. As works can only commence on a Saturday morning after train service has ended. The team will only have about 72 hours to complete the modification works and enable train service to run as per normal by Monday morning. Taking into consideration that the following Monday is a public holiday, there is more flexibility in the schedules in the event that train services could not be resumed on time due to the complexity of the works and/or weather conditions i.e. heavy thunderstorms. This way, the number of passengers affected will be significantly reduced. Train services are expected to end at Yishun and Sembawang station respectively and free shuttle buses will be provided during this period to bridge passengers across affected stations.

Workers laying tracks during the Full Day Closure for the Jurong East Modification Project back in 2011.

This additional crossover track will be useful when there is a track fault, or when there is an obstacle to prevent the train from proceeding. With this crossover track, the operator will be able to maintain train services at a reduced frequency while the fault is being rectified.

Noise barriers will also be installed at the new crossings, due to the tracks’ proximity to nearby condominiums and HDB flats.

More Early Closure on MRT lines

In the first quarter of 2019, stations along the North East Line (NEL) will close earlier on the nights of selected Fridays and Saturdays. This is the first of the early closures on the NEL since its opening in 2003 and is necessary to intensify maintenance and rail replacement works.

Based on our observations, the authorities have learned from previous experiences with the ageing equipment on older lines and are stepping up on maintenance and renewal works. With a well-planned ahead project timeline for the newer lines, the authorities will be able to prevent occurrences of equipment failures or faults along the older lines due to wear and tear.

Concurrently, North South and East West Lines (NSEWL) stations will continue to have early closures on different sectors after March 2019 to accelerate rail renewal works, such as the replacement of track circuits in the 58 signalling equipment rooms. As the current track circuit equipment has been in use since 1987, it is necessary to replace them with newer equipment that employ newer technology such as a built-in condition monitoring system to address possible track circuit failures before they occur.

Changi Airport Skytrain

With the completion of Jewel at Changi Airport, travellers can look forward to travel between Terminals 2 and 3 without walking via the mezzanine level link bridge.

We will also see six new Mitsubishi Crystal Mover train cars, which were purchased to cope with the expected increase in ridership. These new trains will be coupled with existing train cars, allowing more passengers on the skytrain system in both the public and transit areas. In lieu of the additional train cars, the signalling, communications systems and station infrastructures have been upgraded at the various stations.

The new Mitsubishi Crystal Movers being delivered back in 2018, seen here wrapped and parked in a public carpark at Changi Airport.

Relocation of Operation Control Centre

The North South and East West Lines (NSEWL) Operations Control Centre (OCC), which has been in operation since the beginning of MRT operations, is currently located at Victoria Street. The facility will cease operations and be relocated to its new permanent location in Kim Chuan Depot with a larger floor area, and better technology and equipment. This new integrated facility will be situated next to the current Circle Line OCC and will provide a complete overview of SMRT’s three MRT lines with real-time data visualisations, graphs and statistics, therefore giving better coordination between the three lines in the event of a major disruption.

Circle Line Operations Control Centre at Kim Chuan Depot. (Photo: SMRT)

With this move, the current land where the SMRT headquarter sits at North Bridge Road will be returned to the Land Transport Authority for future developments.

2019 seems like an exciting and busy year for the rail industry. What do you guys think?

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On a sunny, yet chilly afternoon at Messe Berlin in Germany, where the biennial InnoTrans 2018, which occupies 41 halls, is held, we headed over to Bombardier Transportation’s (BT) booth, where we had a scheduled interview with their Vice President, Head of South East Asia Mr Jayaram Naidu.

The entrance of Messe Berlin in Berlin, Germany.

As we arrived at the booth, fifteen minutes ahead of the scheduled time, we mingled around with the crowd, which had gathered for the lunch and drinks, and waited for Mr Naidu to arrive.

Bombardier’s booth at the InnoTrans 2018.

Mr Naidu, dressed in a charcoal suit and a white-dotted black tie, spotted us amidst the crowd and gave us a warm greeting. He was as eager as we are for the interview and immediately after our meeting room is freed, invited us in and gave us time to set up our equipment. As we sprung into action to set up the recording devices, Mr Naidu instructed the booth’s waitress to prepare light snacks and drinks in the meantime and left the room.

Five minutes later, a smiling Mr Naidu reappeared, all set to be on the receiving end of our questions. And here is how the interview went:

Q: What are your thoughts about BT winning the contract to provide 396 MOVIA metro cars for the North South & East West Line (NSEWL), beating incumbent Kawasaki which has a strong presence in Singapore?

“To us, it demonstrates Land Transport Authority (LTA) of Singapore’s confidence in a long-term partnership with Bombardier Transportation, being one of the rail technology leader in terms of mobility solutions and to be part of the ecosystem in Singapore,” Mr. Naidu said.

“With each new environment, climate and culture, we evolve and adapt to provide world-class systems – making us a successful global supplier for greenfield and brownfield projects. Our aim is to combine technology and performance with empathy, to serve as a trusted and strong local partner, helping to solve the mobility needs of Singapore, as well as all over the world.”

Artist’s impression of the R151 trains. (Photo: Bombardier)

Q: How will BT assure SMRT Corp to take up the options for long-term technical support under a 30-year contract?

“Our main focus is to be in the Singapore ecosystem working hand in hand with the City State to ensure an efficient and sustainable rail operation, keeping passengers on the move. Our aim is to help minimize operation cost over an extended asset lifetime, while ensuring the highest level of passenger safety and comfort.” said Mr. Naidu.

“It is to provide system solutions and services to optimize performance and reliability to ensuring passengers arrive safely, punctually and comfortably at their destination. Given our global experience, we are ready to continue meeting Singapore’s mobility needs with our high-performance vehicles, signalling systems and fleet management support.”

Q: Comparing with the Downtown Line (DTL) MOVIA metro cars, what are the new unique or enhanced features of the NSEWL metro car’s interior and/or undercarriage that BT will propose for the LTA to adopt?

Mr. Naidu explained that the main focus was to “incorporate a more inclusive public transportation system”. “What do we mean by that? Bombardier and LTA aim to build a more spacious interior cabin to accommodate wheelchairs, strollers and personal mobility devices (PMDs). The new trains will also have tip-up seats which can be folded up during peak hours,” he explained.

Making reference to Singapore’s Land Transport Master Plan 2030 (LTMP2030)’s target of having at least 80% households to be within 8-10 minutes walking distance of a train station, Mr. Naidu emphasized the importance to move towards Singapore’s Smart Nation vision for better living, stronger communities and more economic opportunities – by harnessing data, networks, info-communication technologies to achieve a sustainable Singapore.

Bombardier C951 trains used on the Downtown Line. (Top photo: Bombardier)

Q: Can you share with us some of the features onboard the new INNOVIA APM 300 for the Bukit Panjang LRT (BPLRT), such as the interior and the condition monitoring capabilities?

“BOMBARDIER INNOVIA APM 300 vehicles feature spacious and modern interiors which are in line with LTA’s aim to create a more inclusive public transportation system. Large windows create bright, comfortable interior and excellent visibility for passengers.”

Apart from new features, there are technological advancements too, as Mr. Naidu explained further, “we are trying to bring in some of our advanced technology into the system (such as) introducing the Condition Based Monitoring System into the people mover.”

Bombardier INNOVIA trains used on the Bukit Panjang LRT.

Mr. Naidu cited Minister Khaw Boon Wan’s parliamentary statement where the new target set for the BPLRT is to achieve 100,000 train-kilometers per year (MKBF) before a delay of >5mins occur. Explaining further, he said that, “that’s the direction we are moving towards and the only way to do that is to introduce value-added real-time system condition monitoring that we can incorporate to diagnose with pro-active identification of problems, converting data into meaningful information from the trains as well as from the subsystems including the waysides for better maintenance planning, as well as improving investigation times to maximize fleet availability.”

Q: With new orders for the DTL and NSEWL, making it one of the largest MOVIA metro vehicles fleet in the world, will BT be investing more and increasing its staff presence in the Singaporean market?

“If you look at Bombardier’s 20-year history in Singapore, we have deepened our investment in the local ecosystem,” said Mr. Naidu. Citing Singapore’s goal of achieving 15,000 rail engineers by 2030, he went on to say that, “We are investing and committed in developing local talent through our Singapore graduate programs, as well as internship programs. We are also partnering with several high-tech companies in Singapore, investing in the local ecosystem because our intent is to be a long-term systems provider, continually contributing to improve productivity and ultimately to raising rail industry performance locally, as well as globally.”

Q: Over the past 20 years, BT had provided several different rolling stocks of INNOVIA and MOVIA products for the BPLRT and DTL, establishing a strong presence in Singapore. How will BT continue to position themselves in the competitive business environment?

Mr. Naidu paused, and said “Maybe I will just take a step back and say that, “Together We Move is Bombardier’s key driver and as a team, we never stop moving to keep people in motion in and between cities.”

“Bombardier is about creating better ways to move people across cities and countries and we want to share how our world class fleet performance can impact communities, economies and the environment. Basically, to move away from an era of being Capital Expenditure (CapEx) driven to a Life Cycle Cost (LCC) model.”

“We are positioning ourselves into the LCC model,” he explained, “and if we look at the two recent new contracts in Singapore, the Bukit Panjang LRT (BPLRT) Line and the R151 North-South and East-West (NSEWL) MRT Line, the BPLRT has a maintenance agreement where we provide value-added knowledge from the original equipment manufacturer (OEM). Working with the authority and the operators, we provide the necessary information, guidance, knowledge and share with them how we can further improve the reliability of the system.”

Further elaborating, Mr. Naidu said, “punctuality and performance of the vehicle as well as passengers’ safety and comfort are of utmost importance because at the end of the day, the main point of a public transport system is to improve the quality of life for residents by better connecting them. The only way we are going to do it is to make sure that the system is available, safe, punctual and reliable.”

With that, the interview came to an end. Mr. Naidu offered us a warm handshake, thanking us for coming all the way to Germany to attend the tradeshow.

During the trip to Berlin, Germany, we had the chance to speak with key personnel of Bombardier, such as Mr Laurent Troger (President, Bombardier Transportation), Mr Jayaram Naidu (Vice President, South East Asia) (pictured below, centre) and Mr Paul Brown (Managing Director, Australia).

From left to right: Liang Ge Song, Mr Jayaram Naidu, Ong You Yuan

Bombardier has a strong presence in Singapore for over two decades, since 1996, and with the recent award of contracts for assets renewal on the BPLRT and NSEWL, Bombardier has once again proven themselves as one of the world’s best transportation company and with a strong commitment to Singapore.

The team at SGTrains would like to express our sincerest gratitude to Bombardier Transportation and its staff involved for the amazing experience. We wish Bombardier all the best with the upcoming projects in Singapore and we shall continue to update Singaporeans on various updates regarding the rail projects.

The trip to Germany and its related costs were sponsored by Bombardier Transportation.

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On 14th May 2018, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) announced the pilot of a new Passenger Load Information System (PLIS) on the Downtown Line (DTL). The system features real-time information of the passenger loading in each train carriage of the arriving train and aims to help commuters better plan which door to queue at depending on the expected crowd levels of the oncoming train.

The PLIS at Bugis Station on the Downtown Line.

The crowd levels are differentiated with colour codes, green indicating that the carriage is relatively empty with a good chance of getting a seat; amber indicating that only standing space is available with a low probability of finding a seat; and red indicating high passenger loads, with limited standing space available in the car.

The DTL was chosen by the LTA for the trial as the Bombardier MOVIA C951 trains are already equipped with the necessary hardware used for measuring passenger loads, which are required for the train’s braking system. The PLIS makes use of this equipment to calculate the laden weight of the train carriage, and transmit the data in a matter of seconds to the next train station after the train door closes. The trial is planned to last for 6 months, and should the trial be successful, the LTA plans to roll out the system to other train lines in the future.


As good as it seems, the trial system has drawn much flak from people on social media platforms. As one user points out on Facebook, passengers would be able to determine the loading of the train carriage by simply looking through the window as the train pulls into the station. Others have pointed out that the money invested in this system should have gone into maintenance and repair of the train system.

A comment by a Facebook User on the new PLIS system.

The same response was also received in 2014 when SMRT trialled the “Traffic Light” system at Ang Mo Kio and Tanjong Pagar Stations, which indicated how crowded the stations are and how long passengers needed to wait before they are able to board a train. Many ridiculed the system, citing that people are able to see if the stations are crowded themselves, and would not need the “traffic lights” as it is redundant. This subsequently led to the removal of the system completely in 2017.

The “Traffic Light” system trialled by SMRT in 2014. (Photo: The Straits Times)

There are also certain factors that are needed to be taken into account for the system. In view of convenience, many passengers would prefer boarding at doors nearer to the escalators or lifts at their destination station. This would mean most of the passenger loads will still be concentrated at certain doors instead of being spread out evenly along the platform. This is especially true at interchange stations, where there will be greater passenger movements, making it difficult for someone to accurately plan which door to stand at. For example, a train may display 3 red carriages on the LCD screen, however, after arriving at the interchange station, the front carriage can still remain at red while the rear carriages can change to yellow or green. As there surely will be passenger movements at every station, it will end up as a game of luck for the passenger as he has to predict which car will be green or yellow by the time the train arrives at the station.

My Opinion

As with most of the projects or trial programmes that the LTA introduces, the PLIS was a rather unpopular opinion with the general public. In my opinion, the system is a good initiative by the LTA, but I feel that the system can be much improved from its current state. One improvement is to show the load information for the subsequent train, as it would help commuters better plan and decide to board the arriving train or the subsequent train depending on the load.

In the future should the LTA choose to roll out this system to all other train lines, the system will face an issue while being rolled out to the North South & East West Lines (NSEWL), as they operate trains which are 6 cars long. As all NSEWL stations, with the exception of Jurong East, have only 1 plasma screen along the platform, it will be difficult for commuters to see the status of the train loading from certain locations while waiting for the train. If implemented, an upgrade of adding additional train information displays would be necessary to allow passengers situated far away from the screens to be able to view the loading status, otherwise, the system would not benefit passengers at all.

A plasma screen out of sight from the end of the platform at Kallang Station on the East West Line.

Taking a step forward, the LTA can also work in collaboration with train operators SMRT and SBS Transit to implement this feature in the form of a mobile application instead. This will allow commuters to better plan their journey depending on the current crowd levels in trains before entering the network, instead of finding out for themselves after reaching the platform. An example of this can be seen on the JR-EAST Train Info application, a mobile application for iOS and Android developed by the East Japan Railway Company. Known as the Yamanote Line Train Net, the feature allows passengers to view the loading status as well as the position of trains on the Yamanote Line in real time. Similar to the Passenger Load Information System on the Downtown Line, the Yamanote Line Train Net uses the laden weight of the train carriages to determine the loading status of the carriage.

The Yamanote Line Train Net (JR-EAST Train Info Application).

Such a feature, however, is present in SMRT’s mobile application as well. SMRTConnect uses colour-coded figures to display the estimated number of trains commuters need to wait before boarding at a particular station, similar to the “Traffic Light” system mentioned earlier. Based on our knowledge, this feature is not dynamic and requires constant updates from the station staff in the Passenger Service Centre to update the crowd situation, and would possibly become automated only when SMRT updates their system in the future.

The Train Frequency Indicator (SMRTConnect Application).

However, given the size of our train network as compared to Japan, it is not necessary to have a feature as elaborate as that of the Yamanote Line Train Net. Instead, it would be more feasible to use the colour coded figures to represent the average crowd level of the train, and it can be shown alongside the train arrival timings so that commuters can gauge how crowded the arriving trains are and how long they may need to wait before they are able to board a less crowded train.

With today’s advancement in technology, Singapore is also trying to keep pace by implementing new technological systems to incorporate into our MRT system. While we may be slower compared to other developed countries, we are better late than never. With the implementation of these systems, it will enable the LTA, SMRT and SBS Transit to gather and further make use of this data to accurately analyse the travelling pattern of commuters and improve our daily commuting journeys.

All in all, the PLIS will give passengers a rough estimation of how crowded trains are, and can serve as an advanced notice to others how many trains they would need to wait for before they are able to board. Here in busy Singapore, everybody will have to board a train eventually, it just depends on whether we are patient enough to wait for a less crowded one, board the current one no matter how packed that carriage is, or queue at a door which is expected to have lower crowd levels as compared to others!

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