Update on North-South East-West Lines’ Escalator Refurbishment Project

Singapore, 15 May 2019

Update on North-South East-West Lines’ Escalator Refurbishment Project

1.         In August 2016, SMRT embarked on a five-year escalator refurbishment project across the North-South and East-West Lines. Our escalators in service have an availability rate of more than 99.5%, and the upgrading works are undertaken to ensure that escalators are safe for commuters. It is the first major refurbishment of escalators since the MRT began operations in 1987. The project involving 233 escalators across 42 stations was awarded to Otis Singapore.

2.         To date, 54 of the escalators have been fully refurbished, which translates to about one-quarter of the project completed. Work on another 21 escalators is in progress.

3.         Mr Siu Yow Wee, Vice President, SMRT Building and Facilities, said:  “We are upgrading to serve you better. Together with Otis, we are doing our best to minimise inconvenience to commuters as we upgrade our escalators. At any one time, work will be carried out on one escalator per station except for the bigger stations with more escalators.”

4.         The project first started with four pilot stations – Ang Mo Kio, Tanah Merah, Tiong Bahru and Tanjong Pagar, where each escalator refurbishment took some eight months to complete. Progress was slow in the first year of the project as Otis had to develop a customised refurbishment plan. New commuter-friendly features such as dual-speed and directional traffic light were implemented and tested, along with additional safety enhancement features such as handrail speed monitoring and skirt deflector.

5.         Escalator refurbishment involves the removal, installation and replacement of more than 1,000 parts and major components. Lessons learnt in the initial phase have allowed us to speed up the remaining refurbishment works.

6.         An Otis spokesman said: “After the initial planning period of about 8 months, we have gained in-depth understanding of the requirements of the refurbishment plan and the resources required. We have been working closely with SMRT to carry out the work with the view to minimise the impact on commuters.” Based on the experience of the last two to three years, for the straightforward cases, about four months are needed to complete the refurbishment of one escalator.

7.         Some refurbishment works may take longer than four months because additional issues are discovered only after the escalators are completely dismantled. In these cases, more extensive works are needed. As a result, most of the refurbishment works will be completed by end 2021, while some may be completed beyond that date.

8.         We seek commuters’ understanding and patience as we continue with the refurbishment works.