Commuters will find it easier to navigate all MRT stations in the coming years, with signs at stations to be upgraded to make them easier to understand.
For example, new panels will have larger fonts and outputs indicated by numbers instead of letters.
These signs were installed on the Thomson-East Coast Line (TEL). They will also be at new MRT stations in the future.
Land Transport Authority (LTA) Rail Group Senior Director Mr. Sim Wee Meng said, “A lot of old people say that our signs are crowded and when they try to look for the entrances to the station, it is actually very difficult.
“Our entries were labeled A, B, C, D. And the feedback was that some people can’t read English, so we decided to use numbers instead because it’s a universal language.”
Mr Sim said LTA will modernize the signs for MRT stations that have more than one line, such as Caldecott, which serves both the TEL and the Circle Line.
For the remaining stations, LTA will find a suitable time to upgrade them all, Sim added.
The 67-year-old, who has nearly 40 years of experience in the rail industry, said the focus on improving the commuter experience is one of the additions to the mandate of railway manufacturers since Singapore built its first MRT line in the 1980s.
He joined LTA’s predecessor, the Mass Rapid Transit Authority, in 1983, and has been involved in rail projects here since, starting with the construction of the first MRT stations from Yio Chu Kang to Toa Payoh on the North Line. -South.
Mr Sim said the main priority when building the first stations was to meet the necessary safety requirements.
But, over the years, beyond improving the commuter experience, Sim said, engaging stakeholders such as residents has become a critical task.
“The more MRT lines we build, the closer we get to stores, condominiums and homes, which is why we need to do more awareness,” he said.
“Sometimes when people see heavy machinery so close to their homes, they’re also worried. So you have to go (and) explain to them that there are precautions in place.”
From an engineering perspective, the difficulty of building MRT lines has also increased. This is due to increasing space constraints.
For example, engineers must divert more underground telecommunications cables, power cables, sewer lines and water pipes to build new rail lines.
“In the beginning, we could sometimes do it in six to seven months … But, in general, hijackings now take about 18 to 30 months,” Sim said.
He noted that the shortage of construction workers due to the Covid-19 pandemic also contributed to the delays in this work.
As more and more rail lines are built, engineers must also free up space by building deeper tunnels and stations, he added.
On his expectations for the future MRT system in 30 years, Mr Sim said that there are unlikely to be any drastic changes.
He said the MRT tunnels are built to last around 100 years. This means that even the oldest North-South and East-West lines will still be able to operate for a long time, given that they have been in service for about 30 years.
“We will buy new trains to change the old trains at the end of their lifecycle … but it’s still a train running through the tunnel,” he said.
“But I think modern technology will ensure that there will be more security features than there was in the past.”