SINGAPORE: The Integrated Train Testing Centre (ITTC) will be fully operational by the end of 2024, allowing testing work to be conducted round the clock without disrupting passenger services.
Construction of the centre, which will occupy the former Raffles Country Club site, began on Wednesday (Mar 17).
It will be ready to receive two new trains for Circle Line 6 in early 2023.
And when it is fully operational, it will serve the needs of both existing and upcoming MRT lines and allow more than one project to be tested concurrently, said Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung at the groundbreaking ceremony.
Announced by the Land Transport Authority (LTA) in 2019, the ITTC will support the testing and commissioning of trains and railway systems, as well as mid-life upgrades of Singapore’s trains.
Currently, train testing is done at depots and on the mainline during engineering hours, which add up to “very few hours in the wee hours of the night” and when trains are not in service, said Mr Ong.
It takes a few years to test new trains as they have to be tested together with the interfacing Signalling and Communication Systems.
“Such rigorous testing is critical to ensure that trains have been built to specifications and will work as intended,” said Mr Ong.
“Train testing is, therefore, an important and integral part of our maintenance regime, which in turn upholds a high level and high standards of safety and reliability of MRT and train systems.”
With the 50ha centre, engineers can replicate “actual conditions” on the mainline and test “around the clock”, he added, freeing up “limited engineering hours” on the mainline and depots for other maintenance and renewal works.
It will also reduce the need for early closures and late openings, minimising inconvenience to commuters, said LTA in a press release.
BUILDING LOCAL ENGINEERING CAPABILITIES
Mr Ong noted that the centre will allow testing to be conducted even before MRT lines and depots are developed.
“Today, such tests can only be conducted overseas, before the trains are delivered to Singapore.
“By doing the tests here, we are better able to troubleshoot, identify and resolve any teething issues early to ensure better reliability,” said Mr Ong, adding that this would also allow Singapore to build up its local rail engineering capabilities.
The ITTC can test up to three different signalling systems at the same time.
A one-stop workshop at the centre will perform mid-life upgrades and testing of trains before deployment. It will speed up diagnosis and rectification of faults and improve rail reliability, added LTA.
There will be three types of tracks for “specific safety-critical tests”, said LTA.
It includes a looped endurance track with an uphill gradient section to test train performance, a looped performance and integration track with a branched S-shaped track and a straight high-speed track to test speeds of up to 100km/h.
Energy efficiency will be a priority, said LTA, with the centre designed to achieve the Building and Construction Authority’s (BCA) Green Mark Platinum certificate, which recognises buildings committed to environmental sustainability.
For instance, the centre will use LED lights, solar panels and a centralised chiller system. It will also have bicycle parking facilities and sheltered linkways connecting to other buildings.
The centre will be completed in two phases. The first phase, which includes the construction of the high-speed test track, is expected to be completed in the fourth quarter of 2022.
The second phase will include the completion of the two remaining test tracks, the administration building, the operations control centre building and workshops.