Teething issues expected for new Downtown Line 2: Transport Minister

Workers cleaning the Bukit Panjang downtown line station on December 1, 2015.
PHOTO: The Straits Times

Teething problems might surface when Singapore's Downtown line 2 (DTL2) with its 12 new train stations begin running this coming Sunday, but action would be carried out to minimise them, said Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan.

Writing on his blog post on the numerous tests before its launch, the minister, who took on the transport portfolio after the general election, said: "LTA and SBST engineers have spent many months preparing and testing the entire system, from the operations control centre to the trains and tunnels. This includes a very large number of tests on the integration between DTL1 and DTL2. By the time of the opening, they would have chalked up thousands of tests."

He said engineers told him to to expect "bedding-in" period of several months before the system stabilises.

"This is common for all new lines. While they can perform all forms of testing in a simulated environment, they cannot fully replicate how the system will actually perform in a live environment involving thousands of commuters. (Remember Murphy's Law again!)," Mr Khaw wrote candidly on his blog.

The minister noted that there were two disruptions in January and March 2014 after Downtown Line 1 opened in December 2013. One involved a train's emergency brake and the other, a power trip.

"This time round, when we need to integrate a new stretch of the line with another that is already in operation, we can expect more challenges," he cautioned.

But Mr Khaw assured commuters that the transport authorities would be working hard to minimise any disruptions in the teething process.

"We must also anticipate the worst, and have drawer plans for contingencies in the event that disruptions do occur. We want to be proud parents, not stressed-out ones," he said.

Mr Khaw began his post on a light note, by likening any MRT teething issues to that his daughter experienced when she was a baby.

He wrote: "As a young, inexperienced father, my firstborn's teething when her first pair of teeth cut through the gums was quite an experience as she became irritable and restless. My wife and I felt helpless, not quite knowing what to do to relieve our girl's discomfort.

"We subsequently became better at managing her younger sisters' teething. All these happened decades ago."

chenj@sph.com.sg

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