SINGAPORE: Commuters travelling on the Sengkang and Punggol LRT lines can expect to see service improvements from 2016.
The current single—car system will be converted into a two—car operation.
The Land Transport Authority said capacity will also be increased by 40 per cent, with 16 new train cars added.
Ridership on the Sengkang and Punggol LRT lines has gone up some 10 per cent annually in the past four years.
Operator SBS Transit said as of September this year, the average daily ridership rose to 73,000 passengers.
Commuters say overcrowding during peak hours is also common.
"Sometimes we cannot go in at all... sometimes even when we push, we can’t (enter the LRT) because it is very cramped," said Mohamed Hassan Masod, a resident living in Sengkang.
By 2016, the LRT will be upgraded to a two—car system, allowing double the number of passengers to board at any one time. Each train car can take up to 105 passengers.
Ms Josephine Teo, Minister of State for Transport said: "More Singaporeans are choosing to live in the Sengkang and Punggol areas, and so the LTA conducted a technical feasibility study to see if we can convert the existing LRT system from a one—car system to a two—car system."
"I am sure the residents of these towns, both those who are already living here and will be living here in the future will welcome the news that we will have a two—car system," she added.
There will also be more capacity, with a total of 57 train cars.
16 of the 41 existing train cars will also be modified to make them suitable for two—car operations.
To prepare for the change to the dual—car system, there is also the need to modify the signalling and communication system.
The Land Transport Authority said the modification will begin from the middle of next year.
There will also be no disruption to service, as this will done after service hours.
Member of Parliament for Punggol East, Mr Michael Palmer, hopes the improvements can come faster.
He said: "The dual carriage coming in is something that is quite welcome. Residents whom I have communicated to hope it can come on a lot earlier than 2016, and I am hoping for that too."
"Of course if they can expedite that would be ideal," said Sengkang resident Michael Heng, agreeing with Mr Palmer’s view.
Mr Palmer added: "There are some plans for a bus service that will run as an express service into the CBD, along the KPE. This will run on most of the eastern loop so those going into the CBD can take this instead of MRT and LRT, and that hopefully will take some load off the MRT and LRT systems."
By 2016, there will also be improvements for the Bukit Panjang LRT line, which is operated by SMRT.
Choa Chu Kang station will have two more platforms, specifically for commuters to exit the trains.
This will allow the existing platform in the centre to have more space to cater to boarding passengers.
There will also be additional fare gates and a new covered linkway from the LRT station to Lot 1 Shopping Mall.
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