The Light Rail Transit (LRT), also known as the Light Rapid Transit, is a series of localised automated guideway transit systems acting as feeder services to the heavy rail Mass Rapid Transit, which together with the LRT forms the core of Singapore's rail transport services. The first LRT line was opened in 1999 and the system has since expanded to three lines, each serving a public housing estate, namely Bukit Panjang, Sengkang and Punggol. Trains on these lines have at least one station linking it to the MRT and in turn the remainder of the LRT network.
All LRT lines use fully automated and driverless rubber-tired rolling stock closer in size and scope to a people mover system such as those found in many airports around the world. They are elevated and grade-separated in their entireties, and run on viaducts in order to save scarce land space in Singapore. In these respects, the LRT departs from the traditional sense of a light rail system (which are rarely grade-separated and in many cases include street running sections).
The concept of having rail lines which could bring people from door to door without requiring the use of road-based buses was much favoured by the government transport planners, especially with the increased emphasis on a rail-based public transport network. For intra town travel, LRTs were favoured over buses because trains run on dedicated elevated guideways, bypassing any traffic congestion and traffic lights on the roads, and do not add to road traffic. Train arrival and departure times are also almost guaranteed this way. It is also cleaner as the trains are electrically powered, and therefore lessens the effects of air pollution.
The Bukit Panjang LRT opened on 6 November 1999, with all 14 stations opening at the same time. Ten Mile Junction station was closed from 10 December 2010 till 30 December 2011 for retrofitting works due to the closure and redevelopment of Ten Mile Junction shopping mall (now known as Junction 10), making it the first time an LRT or MRT Station completely closed in Singapore after opening. It is the first and only LRT line to be operated by SMRT Light Rail.
The Sengkang LRT opened in two main stages, the East Loop opening first on 18 January 2003 and most of the West Loop on 29 January 2005. Farmway on the West Loop subsequently opened on 15 November 2007. On 1 January 2013, Cheng Lim opened for passenger service and the west loop now operated in a bidirectional way. Kupang opened for passenger service on 27 June 2015, marking the completion of the opening of all stations along the Sengkang LRT Line.
For the Punggol LRT, the East Loop started operating on the same day as the Sengkang LRT's West Loop, with two stations closed. Oasis was opened for service on 15 June 2007, after more residents moved into Housing and Development Board (HDB) flats in the station's vicinity. Damai opened on June 20, 2011. The West Loop opened on 29 June 2014 at 11.15 am, with Nibong, Sumang and Soo Teck being the first stations to open. Sam Kee, Punggol Point and Samudera opened on 29 February 2016, 29 December 2016 and 31 March 2017 respectively.
During the unveiling of the Urban Redevelopment Authority's early Concept Plans, there have been a number of previously proposed LRT Systems. The government had also looked into the feasibility of using it to connect neighboring towns with one another such as one that would link and connect the towns of Bedok and Tampines. Others serving Yishun, Orchard Road, Bras Basah, Marina South, Lim Chu Kang and Buona Vista were also proposed. All of which have been rejected for their impracticalities.
The Jurong LRT line was first proposed in 2001 which would have served and linked the planning areas of Jurong, Boon Lay, Choa Chu Kang, and the future town of Tengah. However, the LTA announced in 2008 that there were no plans to develop the LRT line. Nonetheless, ever since the Land Transport Master Plan 2013, it has been upgraded into an MRT line and is set to be ready by 2025.
On 31 October 2012, LTA announced that by 2016, Sengkang and Punggol LRT systems will be upgraded to a two-car system for 16 of the 41 existing train cars, allowing double the number of passengers to board at any one time. Each train car can take up to 105 passengers. Hence, there is also the need to modify the signalling and communication system.
On 22 December 2015, the two car trains entered service on the Sengkang LRT line, boosting capacity to 204 per trip as compared to 105 in a single car configuration.
As of 2017, two car trains have entered service on the Punggol LRT line.
On 15 December 2017, the Land Transport Authority said there will be limited services on parts of the Sengkang-Punggol LRT (SPLRT) on most Sundays from 14 January 2018 to 25 February 2018, to facilitate renewal and improvement works from (except 18 February as it is a Chinese New Year holiday). Only one platform will open for service at 5.30am on Sundays. The other platform will open from 7am.
On 14 February, 2018, the LTA announced that it has taken over SBS Transit's rail assets (the North East MRT line and Sengkang-Punggol LRT lines) worth $30.8 million and transit to the New Rail Financing Framework on April 1, 2018. The LTA has also said that this will benefit commuters as there will be "more coordinated and timely expansion, and renewal of the rail system".
For the Bukit Panjang LRT Line, SMRT and LTA announced for plans to completely overhaul the BPLRT system as the system is reaching its lifespan of 20 years. Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan has also announced plans to shut the Bukit Panjang LRT down for a small number of years to pave the way for the system's overhaul. On 23 October 2017, SMRT announced that the Bukit Panjang Light Rail Transit (BPLRT) system will begin operations at 7am, instead of 5.30am, on all Sundays from 12 November 2017 until the end of the year, to allow more time for works to improve service reliability.
|Line and livery||Opening year||Terminal||Stations||Length (km)||Depot||Electrification|
|SMRT Light Rail|
|Bukit Panjang LRT||1999||Choa Chu Kang||Ten Mile Junction||14||7.8||Ten Mile Junction Depot||AC 600 V|
|Sengkang LRT||2003||Sengkang (East Loop)||5||10.7||Sengkang Depot||DC 750 V|
|2005||Sengkang (West Loop)||8|
|Punggol LRT||2005||Punggol (East Loop)||7||10.3|
|2014||Punggol (West Loop)||6a|
a – excluding Teck Lee which is not operational.
Since the LRT system was built in the 1990s, plans for barrier-free facilities have already been included during the planning stages. All 43 stations are equipped with such facilities, thus there will be no difficulties present for the old and handicapped. Barrier-free facilities include lifts, ramps, tactile guidance system and toilets with handicapped-friendly facilities; all stations include wide faregates. These barrier-free facilities will be included in all future LRT stations.
The Bukit Panjang LRT (BPLRT) is the first light rail line in Singapore. Spanning 7.8 km and consisting of 14 stations, the entire line opened in 1999, and is the first and only LRT line to be operated by SMRT Light Rail.
The Sengkang LRT (SKLRT) is a 10.7 km light rail line which partially opened on 18 January 2003. It is part of the LRT system together with the other two lines. The East Loop has 5 stations, all operational, from Compassvale to Ranggung whereas the West Loop has 8 stations from Cheng Lim to Renjong. On 27 June 2015, Kupang opened, making it the last station on the Sengkang LRT to be opened. The completion of several new residential developments in the area deemed it suitable to operate after 12 years.
For a comparison, Cheng Lim opened for passenger service on 1 January 2013 while Farmway opened for passenger service on 15 November 2007 while the rest of the West Loop stations opened for passenger service on 29 January 2005.
The Punggol LRT (PGLRT) is a light rail line in Singapore within the LRT system together with the other two lines. Its first phase, which comprises a 10.3 km light rail line with 15 stations, began operating on 29 January 2005 (with the exception of Oasis, which was opened on 15 June 2007 and Damai, which was opened on 20 June 2011) whereas Nibong, Sumang and Soo Teck were opened on 29 June 2014, the rest of the stations are not opened as Punggol was halfway developed. Subsequently, Sam Kee opened on 29 February 2016, Punggol Point opened on 29 December 2016 while Samudera opened on 31 March 2017 as the area around the stations became more developed. Teck Lee will be opening in tandem with the developments around the area.
The LRT system consists of two depots, which run the maintenance, inspection, train overhaul facilities and house the cars overnight. The Ten Mile Junction Depot houses cars for Bukit Panjang LRT, and the Sengkang Depot houses cars for the Sengkang LRT and Punggol LRT, together with the North East Line of the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT).
|Service Start||Speed Limit|
|Bukit Panjang LRT||Bombardier Innovia C801||19||1999||48 km/h|
|Bombardier Innovia C801A||13||2014|
|Sengkang-Punggol LRT||Mitsubishi Crystal Mover C810||41||2003||70 km/h|
|Mitsubishi Crystal Mover C810A||16||2016|
The trains on the LRT system are fitted with rubber tyres, rather than steel wheels, on specially-constructed guideways from which its power is also sourced. All cars are fully automated and driverless, and are controlled from their respective depots.
Little is known regarding the fate of the older Bombardier C-100s that was built in 1990 for the Changi Airport Skytrain.
All Light Rail Lines are able to run automatically, are fully driverless and automated. The following list documents the systems:
|Line||Supplier||Solution||Type [note 1]||Commissioning||Length (km)||Level of Automation[note 2]||Control Centre||Remarks|
|Bukit Panjang LRT||Bombardier||CITYFLO 550||Fixed Block||1999||7.8||UTO||Ten Mile Junction Depot|
|Sengkang-Punggol LRT||Kyosan||APM Signalling||2003/2005||10.7||Sengkang Depot|
The LRT system consists of two depots, which run the maintenance, inspection, train overhaul facilities and house the cars overnight. The Ten Mile Junction Depot houses cars for Bukit Panjang LRT, and the Sengkang Depot houses cars for the Sengkang LRT and Punggol LRT, together with the North East Line of the Mass Rapid Transit.(MRT)
Instead of using Turnstile Faregates, some Stations on the Bukit Panjang LRT Line now uses Retractable Faregates instead which is faster and easier and was completed in 2016.
By 2018, glass and steel platform barriers will be installed at all 43 LRT stations to prevent people from falling onto the tracks. Unlike the ones in overground MRT stations, the LRT structures will not have sliding doors but fixed openings. The barriers have been erected at Choa Chu Kang and Bukit Panjang LRT stations in anticipation of higher commuter traffic with the opening of Downtown Line 2. This will be followed by the rest of the stations on the Bukit Panjang and Sengkang-Punggol LRT lines, with the work to be fully completed on all LRT lines in 2018.
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