Wet platforms at Tuas West Extension’s open house

Wet platforms at Tuas West Extension’s open house
Cleaners trying to dry the wet floor on the platform of Gul Circle MRT station due to the rain. Photo: Esther Leong/TODAY
Published: 10:55 PM, June 16, 2017
Updated: 11:05 PM, June 16, 2017

SINGAPORE — More than an hour after a public preview of the Tuas West Extension (TWE) to the East-West Line kicked off on Friday (June 16), the fanfare was somewhat dampened by wet platforms at several stations.

When TODAY was at the Tuas Crescent stop — one of the extension’s four new stations — about 1.20pm, rain was seen entering the station from above and the sides of the platform. Over at Gul Circle, the east-bound platform was also completely wet at about 2pm, and cleaners were out in force.

In response to TODAY’s queries, a spokesperson for the Land Transport Authority (LTA) said the stations are designed to allow natural light to enter from the roof and the side louvres. This is to give the stations “an airy and bright feel”.

“During heavy downpours, we are aware that rainwater can come through the side louvres... We will be implementing measures to prevent this,” the spokesperson added.

The wet platform at Tuas Crescent had led some commuters, such as retiree Khoo Poh Choon, 68, to believe that there were “holes in the roof”.

Commuters were seen filing down the staircases to seek shelter. Within minutes, parts of the platform were completely wet and SMRT staff members were seen deploying “Caution, Wet Floor” signs.

“Why is it so wet?... The platform’s so slippery and a lot of workers may run the risk of falling,” he told TODAY.

He suggested that “additional shelter” should be provided.

This is not the first time rainwater had seeped into the station.

A 65-year-old cleaner, who gave his name only as Mr Ng, said he has worked at Tuas Crescent for 10 days and had seen half the platform become completely wet on two occasions when thunderstorms occurred.

Another cleaner at the station, Mr Sinin Rabarn, 75, said the wind brought the heavy rains into the station.

However, the wet platforms were not a cause for concern for Mr Benjamin Goh, 22, deputy president of train enthusiast group SGTrains, who described it as a typical “teething problem”.

The TWE Open House on Friday drew about 33,000 people to the far west of the island. It included free train rides along all four stations – Gul Circle, Tuas Crescent, Tuas West Road and Tuas Link – from noon to 8pm.

The 7.5km extension beyond Joo Koon — the final stop on the East-West Line (EWL) now — will begin passenger service on Sunday.

Speaking at the opening ceremony at the Tuas Link station, Second Transport Minister Ng Chee Meng called the TWE a “significant engineering achievement”.

It is the country’s first integrated rail-and-road viaduct that stands at 23 metres in height — nearly twice that of an average MRT viaduct. At 33 metres aboveground, Gul Circle, which is roughly the height of a 10-storey Housing and Development Board block, is also the highest elevated station in the MRT network.

Since the EWL was completed in 1990, Tuas has doubled in size, with many new industries — from biomedical to offshore and marine — emerging. The area continues to grow and will house the upcoming Tuas Port, said Mr Ng, who is also Education Minister (Schools).

The TWE, built to cater for this growing travel demand to and from Tuas, is expected serve 100,000 commuters daily. Travel time for many will also be trimmed. For example, those going from Woodlands to Tuas West will find their journeys pruned from 1.5 hours now to less than an hour.

Originally set to open by the end of last year, the TWE’s launch was delayed because the new signalling system that it runs on — the same one being tested on the North-South Line — had to go through more tests to ensure its reliability.

In an update on Friday, Mr Ng said that in the first five months of this year, trains across the MRT network ran an average of 387,000 train-km before hitting delays of more than five minutes.

This is a more than two-fold jump over the “mean kilometre between failure” (MKBF) — a measure of train reliability — of 168,000 train-km in the same period last year.

The rail network’s performance has so far surpassed the Government’s MKBF target of 300,000 train-km for this year. The target will be ratcheted up to 400,000 train-km next year.

Commuters who work in the Tuas area are looking forward to the time savings with the new extension.

Typically, it takes part-time administrative assistant Ooi Chew Hong, 45, half an hour on average to travel from her home in Jurong West to her workplace in Tuas via two shuttle buses.

With the TWE, this is likely to be trimmed by 10 minutes. “Buses are usually very packed (and) crowded. I’ll definitely take the MRT from now on,” she said.

Retired forklift driver Teo Boon Teck, 72, said the new extension would also mean time savings for his 44-year-old son, who drives to work at a Tuas factory. Saying that there was always congestion coming out of Tuas after his son knocks off at 3pm, he said in Mandarin: “Now with the (extension), it’s more convenient.”