On April 24, Singapore’s Land Transport Authority announced that they will be building an Integrated Train Testing Centre (ITTC). It will occupy a site of approximately 50 hectares at the former Raffles Country Club site and will be equipped to robustly test trains and other core railways systems (e.g. electrical, mechanical and signalling systems) around the clock, without affecting passenger services on the main lines. This is similar to testing centres in other countries with extensive rail networks, such as Germany, Korea and Japan.

Track testing facilities would include an endurance loop test track, a performance and integration loop test track, a straight high-speed test track, to name a few.

These developments sure sound appealing. What’s in it for us?

Safer Trains

Needless to say, ITTC would bring about safer trains and railways. Before the trains are even deployed, the tests could be conducted

The ITTC is equipped to test key railway systems including electrical, mechanical, as well as signalling systems. This would, of course, lower down the possibility of accidents. Without a testing centre, the tests would have to be conducted overseas, where the original manufacturers are typically located. Alternatively, testing on the actual tracks could be done. Of course, this is even riskier.

Improved Services

There would no longer be a need to cut down on train hours to give way to engineering hours since all of the testings are off the actual railways. Another plus would be better-equipped workers since another function of the ITTC is to train their railway workers before they go into the actual operations.

Quicker Response

Should there be a problem in the railway network, diagnosis and response will be swift since all of it could be done in the ITTC. This way, services would still not be disrupted. LTA Deputy Chief Executive (Infrastructure and Development) Mr Chua Chong Kheng said, “The ITTC allows for robust testing of our trains and integrated systems before they are deployed on operational lines. This approach frees up precious engineering hours for other activities, such as railway maintenance, and reduces the need for future Early Closures and Late Openings. In addition, LTA will be able to speed up the diagnosis and rectification of faults with the ITTC, as troubleshooting can now be done locally.”

Improved Maintenance

ITTC is also equipped with a rolling stock facility for midlife train maintenance and refurbishment needs. This further ensures the safety in boarding the trains. Over time, the ITTC can grow into a hub for LTA and the local rail industry to develop deeper Operations and Maintenance competencies and achieve engineering excellence. The facility will provide railway workers with training opportunities, giving them a first-hand understanding of the intricacies of new rail systems before they are deployed. Equipped with a rolling stock facility, the ITTC can carry out mid-life train refurbishment projects. The ITTC can also serve as a testing ground for the local rail industry to evaluate new railway infrastructure, develop proofs-of-concept, as well as conduct research and development into railway technologies.

Better and Wider Railway Networks

ITTC is designed to support current efforts to expand and upgrade the railway networks. This entails a  more convenient and more connected transportation scheme. ITTC will also double as a platform for generating innovations and proofs-of-concept. It will be a venue for research and development in railway technology. Construction of ITTC is planned to start by mid-2020 and is expected to start taking trains before the end of 2022.

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