The Mass Rapid Transit, or MRT, is a rapid transit system forming the major component of the railway system in Singapore, spanning most of the city-state. The earliest section of the MRT, between Toa Payoh and Yio Chu Kang, opened on 7 November 1987. 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 3.031 million in 2015 (including the Light Rail Transit (LRT)), approximately 78% of the bus network's 3.891 million in the same period.[2]

The MRT network encompasses 199.6 kilometres (124.0 mi) of route, with 119 stations in operation, on standard gauge. The fully automated Circle, Downtown and North East lines form the longest fully automated metro network in the world.[3][4] The lines are built by the Land Transport Authority, a statutory board of the Government of Singapore, which allocates operating concessions to the profit-based corporations, SMRT Corporation and SBS Transit. These operators also run bus and taxi services, thus facilitating full integration of public transport services. The MRT is complemented by a small number of local LRT networks in Bukit Panjang, Sengkang and Punggol that link MRT stations with HDB public housing estates.[5]


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.[6][7][8] 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.[9][10]

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 as 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.[9][11] 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.[12][13]

The MRT has since been expanded. The first expansion was in 1996. This was 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.[14] 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.[14][15] On 6 November 1999, the first LRT trains on the Bukit Panjang LRT went into operation.[16] In 2002, the Changi Airport and Expo stations were added to the MRT network.[17] 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,[18] Buangkok station was opened.[19][20] On 20 June 2011, Woodleigh station was opened.[21] The Boon Lay Extension of the East West line, consisting of Pioneer and Joo Koon stations, opened on 28 February 2009.[22][23] The Circle line opened in four stages from 28 May 2009 to 14 January 2012. Stage 1 of Downtown line opened on 22 December 2013[24] with its official opening made on 21 December 2013 by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.[25] Stage 2 opened on 27 December 2015, after being officially opened on 26 December by Prime Minister Lee.[26] 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.[27] Stage 3, the final stage of 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.[28]



The following table lists the Mass Rapid Transit lines that are currently operational:

Name and color Commencement Next extension Terminus Stations Length Depot Operator Control Center
North South line 7 November 1987 2019 Jurong East
Marina South Pier
26[29] 45 kilometres (28 mi)[29] Bishan Depot
Ulu Pandan Depot
Changi Depot
Tuas Depot
SMRT Trains City Hall


East West line 12 December 1987 TBA Pasir Ris
Changi Airport
Joo Koon[note 1]
Tuas Link
35[30] 57.2 kilometres (35.5 mi)[30]
Circle line 28 May 2009 2025 Dhoby Ghaut
Marina Bay
30[31][note 2] 35.5 kilometres (22.1 mi)[31] Kim Chuan Depot Kim Chuan Depot
Subtotal (lines under SMRT Trains): 92 137.7 kilometres (85.6 mi)[31]
North East line 20 June 2003 2023 HarbourFront
16[32] 20 kilometres (12 mi)[32] Sengkang Depot SBS Transit Sengkang Depot
Downtown line 22 December 2013 2024 Bukit Panjang
34[24] 41.9 kilometres (26.0 mi)[24] Kim Chuan Depot
Tai Seng Facility Building
Gali Batu Depot
Gali Batu Depot
Subtotal (Lines under SBS Transit): 50 61.9 kilometres (38.5 mi)
Total: 119[note 3] 199.6 kilometres (124.0 mi)

Schematic map of the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) and Light Rapid Transit (LRT) network in Singapore (an official version can be found at the Land Transport Authority's website).

Facilities and services

An SMRT Active Route Map Information System panel showing the current location of a train and upcoming stops
Active Route Map Information System of Downtown line equipped on C951/C951A train

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.[33][34][35] Mobile phone and 3G service is available in every part of the network.[36] Underground stations and the trains themselves 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.[37] 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.[38] Heavy-duty escalators at stations carry passengers up or down at a rate of 0.75 m/s, 50% faster than conventional escalators.[39][40]

The older stations on the North South and East West lines were originally built with no accessibility facilities, such as lifts, ramps, tactile guidance systems (Braille tactiles on the floor surface), wider fare gates, or toilets for passengers with disabilities;[41] authorities in the past actively discouraged use of their system by the disabled.[42] Now, these facilities are being progressively installed as part of a programme to make all stations accessible to the elderly and to those with disabilities.[41][43][44] All stations are now barrier-free, although works are still ongoing to provide stations with additional barrier-free facilities. The installation of lifts at pedestrian overhead bridges next to six MRT stations and additional bicycle racks at 20 stations is slated to be completed by the end of 2013.[45]

Hours of operation

MRT lines operate from 5:30am to before 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. MRT serves as an essential purpose of transport owing to the support from various organisations and being a car-lite society.[46]

Rolling stock

The following table lists the rolling stock of the network:

Name Line Cars (per train) Total no. of cars Service commencement Power supply Speed Limit Price
C151 North South line
East West line
6 400[47] 7 November 1987 750 V DC
Third Rail
80 km/h S$581.5 million[48][49]
C651 6 114[50][51] 2 May 1995 S$259 million[52]
C751B 6 126[47][53][a] 8 May 2000 S$231 million
C151A 6 210[54][55] 27 May 2011 S$368 million[56]
C151B 6 270 16 April 2017 S$281.5 million[57]
C151C 6 72 2019 $136.8 million[58][59]
C751A North East line 6 150 20 June 2003 1500 V DC
Overhead Catenary
90 km/h $260 million
C751C 6 108 1 October 2015 S$234.9 million[60]
C830 Circle line 3 120 28 May 2009 750 V DC
Third Rail[61]
78 km/h S$282 million[62]
C830C 3 72 26 June 2015 S$134 million[63]
C951/C951A Downtown line 3 276 22 December 2013 750 V DC
Third Rail[64][65]
80 km/h S$689.9 million[64][66][b]
CT251 Thomson-
East Coast line
4 364 2019 750 V DC
Third Rail[67]
S$749 million[68]
  1. ^ Kawasaki Heavy Industries manufactured 66 cars and Nippon Sharyo manufactured 60 cars.
  2. ^ Two separate orders of the C951 were made. The figure listed is the total amount.

At present, all Singapore lines run with fixed length trains between three and six cars,[48][69][70] 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 uses an automatic train operation system that is similar to London Underground's Victoria line.[70]

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.[48] 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.[71][72] Refurbished and new trains sport sleeker designs, improved passenger information systems, more grab poles, wider seats, more space near the doors, spaces for wheelchairs and CCTV cameras.[73][74] As a trial run, luggage racks were installed on the C751B trains to serve travellers on the Changi Airport branch line.[75] The scheme was withdrawn in June 2002 and the luggage racks removed.[76][77]

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.[78]


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 are the only lines running with fixed block signalling. The North South line was recently upgraded to moving block cbtc in 2017, with the East West line upgrade to be implemented in 2018.

All new MRT lines built since the North East line in 2003 are equipped with moving block cbtc from the outset, and have the capability to be completely driverless and automated, require no onboard 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 in emergencies.

Line Supplier Solution Type [note 4] Commission Date Level of Automation[note 5] Remarks
North South line Thales SelTrac Moving Block CBTC Mid-Late 2017 DTO BrownField
East West line Westinghouse FS2000 Fixed Block-Speed Coded 1987 STO Tuas West Extension to use SelTrac CBTC from opening in June 2017
North East line Alstom Urbalis 300 Moving Block CBTC 2003 UTO
Circle line Alstom Urbalis 300 Moving Block CBTC 2009 UTO
Downtown line Siemens, formally Invensys Westinghouse Sirius CBTC Moving Block CBTC 2013 UTO
East Coast line
Alstom, formally GE Urbalis 400 Moving Block CBTC 2019 UTO Under Construction


Trains parked at the bay of the Bishan Depot

SMRT Corporation has four train depots: Bishan Depot is the central maintenance depot with train overhaul facilities,[79] while Changi Depot and Ulu Pandan Depot inspect and house trains overnight.[80] In March 2012, it was announced the new Tuas Depot would be ready in 2016 for the East West MRT line.[81] The underground Kim Chuan Depot houses trains for the Circle line and Downtown line, now jointly managed by the two operators.[82]

SBS Transit has two depots: Sengkang Depot houses trains for the North East MRT 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.[83] 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' worth, of land space.[84]

The Western Depot for Cross Island line will be located at the former site of Raffles Country Club.[85]

Architecture and art

Stadium MRT station, located near the Singapore Sports Hub, is imprinted with sports motifs at the station entrance

Early stages of the MRT's construction paid relatively 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.[86] Architectural themes became a more important issue 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.[87]

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.[88] 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.[89] An art contest was held by the authorities in preparation for a similar scheme to be implemented for the Circle line.[90]

Expo MRT station is sited adjacent to the Singapore Expo exhibition facility, and sports a futuristic design by Foster and Partners

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.[91][92]

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.[93]

Bras Basah has a water feature to allow sunlight from above the station to filter in

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.[94]


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.[95][96] It called for the expansion of the 67 kilometres of track in 1995 to 360 in 2030.[95] It was expected that daily ridership in 2030 would grow to 6.0 million from the 1.4 million passengers at that time.[97]

On January 17, 2013, the new rail lines and existing line extensions were announced, superior to the announcement of the Land Transport Master Plan 2013.[98][97]

The following table lists Mass Rapid Transit lines and stations that are currently under testing, construction, or that are in the planning stages:

Name and color Commencement Between stations No. of stations Length (km) Depot Operator
Under construction / Works tendering
North South line 2019 Canberra 1[99] 0 Bishan Depot
Ulu Pandan Depot
SMRT Trains
East Coast line
2019 (Stage 1)
2020 (Stage 2)
2021 (Stage 3)
2023 (Stage 4)
2024 (Stage 5)
Woodlands North
Mount Pleasant
Tanjong Rhu
Bedok South
Woodlands South
Gardens by the Bay
Sungei Bedok
31[100] 43[100] Mandai Depot
Changi Depot
Circle line 2025 (Stage 6) Keppel Prince Edward 3[101] 4[101] Kim Chuan Depot
Downtown line 2024 (DTL3e) Xilin Sungei Bedok 2[24] 2.2[24] Kim Chuan Depot
Changi Depot
SBS Transit
North East line 2023 (NELe) Punggol Coast 1[102] 1.6[102] Sengkang Depot
Under planning
Thomson-East Coast line 2020s (Extension) N/A Mandai Depot
Changi Depot
SMRT Trains
Jurong Region line By 2025 N/A 20[102] N/A
Cross Island line By 2030 N/A 50[102] N/A
Geographical layout of the MRT network
History of the MRT network from 1983 to 2024 including future planned lines
Map of the proposed Singapore-Johor rail link, which will link to Malaysia's rail networks

Canberra MRT station

On 17 January 2013, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) announced that feasibility studies were being conducted to build a station between Sembawang and Yishun stations.[103] The feasibility studies was completed in 2014 and Canberra station will be built.[104] Shortly later on 1 August 2014, LTA announced that construction will commence in mid-2015 and is expected to be completed in 2019.[105] Construction works for Canberra station commenced on 26 March 2016.[106] This station, which is an infill station and will have side platforms, will be built along an operational section of the line between Sembawang and Yishun stations. The construction costs S$90 million[107] and will be completed by 2019 to serve upcoming developments near the station.[108]

Downtown line

The 44-kilometre, 36 station fully underground Downtown line,[24] connects the northwestern and eastern regions of Singapore to the new downtown at Marina Bay in the south and to the CBD.[109] Similar to the Circle line, three-car trainsets run on the Downtown line with line capacity projected for 500,000 commuters daily. The Downtown line commeced operations across 3 stages. Stage 1 from Bugis to Chinatown began operations on 22 December 2013. Stage 2 from Bukit Panjang to Rochor began operations on 27 December 2015.[110] Stage 3 from Fort Canning to Expo commenced operations on 21 October 2017, and Stage 3e from Expo to Sungei Bedok will begin operations in 2024.[111][112][113][114][115][116]

Thomson-East Coast line

The 43-kilometre, 31 station fully underground Thomson-East Coast line will connect the northern region of Singapore to the south,[100] running parallel to the existing North South Line passing through Woodlands, Sin Ming, Upper Thomson and Marina Bay[117] before turning east and running through Tanjong Rhu, Siglap, Marine Parade and Bedok.[84] The line will commence operation in five stages, with the first three stages starting from Woodlands North to Gardens by the Bay commencing operations between 2019 and 2021 respectively,[118] Stage 4 from Tanjong Rhu to Bayshore in 2023 and Stage 5 from Bedok South to Sungei Bedok in 2024.[84] The northern terminus of Woodlands North is also expected to interchange with the Singapore-Johor rail link to provide access to Johor Bahru and the future Johor Bahru Rapid Transit System. The Land Transport Authority announced on 11 August 2017 that the Thomson-East Coast Line will be the first cashless MRT line.[119]

Proposed Extension to Changi Airport

In addition to the previously announced alignment of the Thomson-East Coast line, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) is studying whether to extend the TEL from Sungei Bedok station to the future Changi Airport Terminal 5, and then connecting to the existing Changi Airport MRT station on the East-West Line. With such an extension, there will be a direct connection between Changi Airport and the city. Its length is still being decided. If feasible, this extension will start operating together with the opening of the new Terminal 5.[120]

Jurong Region line

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. Details will be announced once Tengah New Town development is up, and the completion will be by 2025.[102]

West Coast extension

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.[121]

Cross Island line

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. This line will even have a longer timeframe due to the environmental study aspects, with the completion by 2030.[102] The Land Transport Authority (LTA) has also expressed interest in the implementation of possible express services on the CRL in future, apart from having just normal services. This express service would benefit commuters during the morning peak hours as trains would stop at only the interchanges and skip the remaining stations, hence, reducing travel time greatly.

Circle line stage 6

To be completed by 2025, the 4-kilometre extension will run from Marina Bay through Keppel, ending at HarbourFront, effectively 'completing the circle' [102] 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.

North East line extension

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.[102] 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 called Punggol Coast.[122][123] Construction on the extension is expected to commence on the first half of 2018.[124]

Fares and ticketing

General Ticketing Machines (GTM) at Expo MRT station, where passengers can purchase a Standard Ticket, or add value to their EZ-Link card
Thales ticket barriers at Dhoby Ghaut MRT station, one type of the many access control gates in the MRT system.

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.[125] 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.[126] General Ticketing Machines sell tickets for single trips or allow the customer to buy additional value for stored-value tickets. Tickets for single trips, coloured in green, are valid only on the day of purchase, and have a time allowance of 30 minutes beyond the estimated travelling time. Tickets that can be used repeatedly until their expiry date 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.[126] 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.[33][127] 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.[126] 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.[127][128] 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 over the past few years have caused public concern,[129] the latest one having taken effect from 1 October 2008.[130] There were similar expressions of disapproval over the slightly higher fares charged on SBS Transit's North East line, a disparity that SBS Transit justified by citing higher costs of operation and maintenance on a completely underground line, as well as lower patronage.[131]

After the opening on Downtown line, Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan announced that public transport fare rules will be reviewed to allow for transfers across MRT lines at different stations as the rail network is getting denser. Currently, commuters are charged a second time when they make such transfers. He added that the Public Transport Council (PTC) will 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 is expected to be completed in the first quarter in 2018.[132][133]


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.[134] 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.[134][135] Additional credit may be purchased via cash or NETS at any General Ticketing Machine (GTM), Add Value Machine, TransitLink Ticket Office, Passenger Service Centre, AXS Station, DBS/POSB/OCBC/UOB Automatic Teller Machines, online via a card reader purchased separately, or selected merchants. 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.

A Standard Ticket contactless smart card for single or return journeys may also be purchased at the GTM for the payment of MRT and/or LRT fares. A S$0.10 deposit will be 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.[136] 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.[73][137] 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.[35][138]

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,[139] 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,[112] citing lower costs due to it becoming a more common feature worldwide.[140] They were first installed at Jurong East, Pasir Ris and Yishun stations in 2009 under trials to test their feasibility.[141]

By 14 March 2012, all elevated stations have been retrofitted with the doors and are operational.[142] 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.[143][144]

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.[145] 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.[146] On 15 November 2017, at 8:20 a.m., two trains collided at Joo Koon MRT station, injuring 36 passengers and 2 SMRT staff.[147][148] disruptions to the system of late, the cause of which often being cited by a lack of maintenance coupled with increased ridership due to population growth,[149][150] 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.[151] 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 December 15 and 17, 2011.[152] A Committee of Inquiry discovered shortcomings in the maintenance regime and checks, prompting then CEO Saw Phaik Hwa to resign.[153] 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.[154] 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.[155] For the July 2015 disruption, LTA imposed a higher penalty of S$5.4 million on SMRT.[156]

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.[157] 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.[158] This incident resulted in a 2.5 hour service delay between Tanah Merah and Pasir Ris Stations, affecting at least 10,000 commuters.[159]

Impact and criticism

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.[160] 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.[161]

The government reviewed the penalties for train disruptions,[160] and made travel free available for all bus services passing MRT stations affected during any train disruptions. Exits were also made free.[162]

To increase satisfaction with the public transport, free morning off-peak travel was introduced while improvements are ongoing.[160]

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.[163] 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.[164] 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.[165]


Closed-circuit television cameras monitor activities at City Hall MRT station. A real-time video feed is broadcast and shown at the station concourse.

Security concerns related to crime and terrorism were not high on the agenda of the system's planners at its inception.[166] After the Madrid train bombings in 2004 and the foiled plot to bomb the Yishun MRT station in 2001,[167] the operators deployed private, unarmed guards to patrol station platforms and conduct checks on the belongings of commuters, especially those carrying bulky items.[168]

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.[169][170] 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.[171] 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.[172]

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.[173] 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.[174] They are trained and authorised to use their firearms at their discretion, including deadly force if deemed necessary.[175] 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.[176]

Security concerns were brought up by the public when two incidents of vandalism at train depots occurred within two years.[177] In both incidents, graffiti on the affected trains were discovered after they entered revenue service.[178] 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.[179][180] SMRT Corporation received a S$50,000 fine by the Land Transport Authority for the first security breach.[180] 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.[177][178]

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.[181]

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.[182]

See also



  1. ^ Joo Koon will temporarily be the western terminus of the EWL. When upgrading works are finished in 2018, the direct rail link to Tuas West of the EWL will be restored.
  2. ^ Excluding Bukit Brown MRT Station, which is not in operation
  3. ^ Excluding duplicating interchange stations.
  4. ^ 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.
  5. ^ UTO = Unattended Train Operation. DTO = Driverless Train Operation. STO = Semi-automated Operation Mode


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Academic publications

  • Sock, Y.P. & Walder, Jay H. (1999). Singapore's Public Transport. 

Corporate and governmental sources

  • Sharp, Ilsa (2005). The Journey — Singapore's Land Transport Story. SNP:Editions. ISBN 981-248-101-X. 
  • Land Transport Authority, Singapore (2 January 1996). A World Class Land Transport System — White Paper presented to Parliament. ISBN 9971-88-488-7. 
  • Mass Rapid Transit Corporation, Singapore (1993). Stored Value — A Decade of the MRTC. ISBN 981-00-5034-8. 
  • Mass Rapid Transit Corporation, Singapore (1988). The MRT Story. ISBN 981-00-0251-3. 
  • Singapore MRT Limited (1987). MRT Guide Book. ISBN 981-00-0150-9. 
  • Mass Rapid Transit Corporation (MRTC) and Institution of Engineers Singapore (IES) (1987). Mass Rapid Transit System : Proceedings of the Singapore Mass Rapid Transit Conference, Singapore 6–9 April 1987. ISBN 9971-84-636-5. 

External links