Facilities on the Mass Rapid Transit (Singapore)

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Concourse level of Queenstown Station, showing a Conrac Plasma Display, passenger service centre & faregates.
Exterior view of Jurong East Station, showing a C151 Train approaching.

Stations on the Mass Rapid Transit, the rapid transit system in Singapore, are either above-ground or underground, or just below ground level (in the case of the North-South Line side of Bishan MRT Station). Most stations have a concourse level, where fares are paid based on the length of the ride, and a platform level, where passengers get on and off trains. Usually, the concourse is closer to ground level than the platform level is. Most stations have island platforms. Amenities include retail spaces, General Ticketing Machines, at least one Passenger Service Centres, payphones, toilets, and LED and plasma displays that show the time until the next train.

Station layouts[edit]

Stations have two classifications of areas, paid and unpaid areas, which allow the rail operators to collect fares by restricting entry between the areas only through the fare gates, also known as access control gates. Commuters enter the paid area in order to board a train; and must enter the unpaid area in order to access the street, and must pass through the gates. These gates, connected to a computer network, are capable of reading and updating electronic tickets capable of storing data, and can store information such as the initial and destination stations and the duration for each trip. Fares are collected on the basis of this information.

A typical station has a concourse level and one or more platform levels. The concourse level consists of the ticketing machines and the access control gates between the paid and unpaid areas. Tickets are presented at these gates in order to pass between the unpaid and paid areas. Escalators and stairs providing access to the platform level are located only within the paid area. The platform level is where passengers board and alight from the trains. Most of the time this consists of one actual island platform with two sets of tracks for opposite directions running on either side. Except for Changi Airport Station, the concourse level and the platform levels are separate levels. Escalators and stairs between the concourse and platform levels, as well as the concourse level to the street level if necessary. Most stations have only one platform level. However, cross-platform interchange stations have two or more platform levels, one for each train line. These extra levels, together with the linkways connecting between them, make interchange stations to have more levels than a typical station that serves only one line.

In above-ground stations where trains run on viaducts, the concourse level can be either located on the ground level or on the second level, with the platform level above it. When the concourse level is on the second level, a pedestrian overpass may sometimes link the unpaid area of this level to another prominent building nearby, such as a polytechnic. In underground stations, the concourse level is typically an underground level, with the platform levels below it. For most underground stations where the concourse level is underground, there will be pedestrian underpasses that lead to street access on top of the station area or basement levels of neighbouring buildings, such as a shopping centre. Some stations, particularly interchange stations, are deep enough to be shielded from conventional bomb attacks from the air and act as bomb shelters. This status is enhanced by the fact that underground MRT systems have prebuilt ventilation systems with air-conditioning to ensure a degree of comfort in the unlikely event of a conventional air assault.

Most stations have island platforms, although Braddell MRT Station and Dover MRT Station have side platforms. This is because island platforms are seen to be less costly than side platforms, or possibly to make it convenient for passengers to transfer to another train on the same line but running in the opposite direction. Also, all stations are made to be as straight as possible because the degree that trains would turn at when approaching and leaving a station would be too great if curved stations were built. A good example of this engineering defect is seen at Mong Kok East Station in Hong Kong, where Platform 1 of this station (to the left if travelling to the Hong Kong-China border) is curved and the gaps are wide. Trains also risk being scratched depending on how it enters the station.

Facilities and services[edit]

All stations have lift, General Ticketing Machines (GTMs), at least one Passenger Service Centre (PSC), payphones, toilets, LED and plasma displays (showing the time, date, train service information, safety messages and commercials), located within the unpaid area of the concourse level. Some stations however, such as the underground Somerset MRT Station, have toilets located at street level instead.

Most stations have commercial space set aside for supermarkets, convenience stores, kiosks, Automatic Teller Machines (ATMs) and self-service automated kiosks for a myriad of services. Plans are currently underway to increase the amount of commercial space at many SMRT Corporation stations as part of SMRT Corporation's efforts to raise rental revenue from the leasing of commercial space in its stations to help in the defraying operating costs.[citation needed]

3G service is deployed at the MRT tunnels since 14 June 2011.

Selected stations, located in areas of higher commuter traffic, will be rebranded as Xchanges. These include Ang Mo Kio, Raffles Place, Dhoby Ghaut, Choa Chu Kang, Tanjong Pagar, Boon Lay, Buona Vista, Tampines, Esplanade, Orchard, Bukit Batok and Woodlands.

MediaCorp's Today newspaper and Singapore Press Holding's my paper are distributed at most stations every morning. An afternoon edition of the Today newspaper are distributed at most stations every afternoon.

Buskers were deployed to various crowded MRT stations in order to ease overcrowding on the MRT, which has been started at City Hall and Raffles Place during the mornings.

Wireless @ SG is also deployed at 12 stations including some in the modern North East, Circle and Downtown Lines.

Piped in music was initially played at station concourses from 1996 to 2000. Some stations also have advertising billboards which advertise artiste albums. These billboards are usually accompanied with a DVD set which also play musics. It was re-introduced for Downtown Line Stage 1 since 22 December 2013.[1]

Escalator announcements were also put up in Simei and Tanjong Pagar, and charging points were put up at City Hall and Kent Ridge.

A Plasma Display by ADV shows train service information at the North East Line (NEL) Dhoby Ghaut Station Platform Level

Passenger information system[edit]

Flip Dot Electronic Displays in stations[edit]

Initially, the MRT system used green coloured flip dot electronic displays on the North-South Line and East-West Line from 7 November 1987 until September 2001. The displays announced a train's terminating station when it arrives (or otherwise, a "Do Not Board" warning), although the disadvantage was that it could not tell the duration of a train's arrival time (e.g. the train will arrive at Jurong East Station in 2 mins). The second generation of such displays installed at stations along the Woodlands Extension featured a slightly updated version where the time till the next train arrival would be displayed from 3 minutes prior to the train's arrival. They were eventually replaced by plasma displays in September 2001.

Plasma Displays in stations[edit]

Singapore utilises plasma displays in metro stations to display train service information. Critics have opposed the use of plasma displays as they are considerably more expensive to install and are susceptible to the problem of screen burn. However, the rail operators see this as a medium to earn advertising revenue from commercials shown on these displays. At the same time, they are able to display all the train service information, safety messages and time and date on these screens clearly. Using the flip dot system previously, only a limited amount of information could be displayed.

Plasma Displays by Conrac are installed in stations along the North South Line & East West Line. 2 plasma displays are installed at a single location per platform. The reason for the installation of only 2 plasma displays at a single location per platform was because these displays had been retrofitted into the platforms when they replaced the aging flip dot displays which were only sited at 1 location per platform. Thus, the existing infrastructure available could only support plasma displays at 1 location per platform.

Plasma Displays by Advanced System Asia (ADV) are installed at the concourse levels of stations along the North East Line, Circle Line and Downtown Line. These were the first generation of plasma displays installed in these stations. However, the normal Mean Time Between Failures (MTBF) for plasma displays is about 35,000 hours or about 4 years. Because these displays were tested and commissioned for use more than 5 years ago, burnt marks had appeared, brought about by a sharp contrast of the display of a certain combination of colours over a long period of time. As such, the Land Transport Authority had to replace these displays, though only at the platform level.

PPM42S3QX/XSS Plasma Displays by Samsung are installed at the platforms in stations along the North East Line, Circle Line and Downtown Line. Unlike the platforms along the North South Line & East West Line, 2 plasma displays are installed at each of 2 locations per platform. The reason for the installation of 4 plasma displays per platform was because these displays were installed at the platforms right from the station's construction phase & thus had the necessary infrastructure to support them at 2 different locations per platform.

Liquid Crystal Displays in trains[edit]

6 liquid crystal displays are installed in each train car. These only show "Welcome to SBS Transit" and is only available on C751As.

LCD displays in stations[edit]

These are installed at the entrances and the concourse level of the stations. They show the estimated arrival times of the next two trains per platform, safety messages and train service messages.

LCD Displays by Advanced System Asia (ADV) are installed in stations along the North East Line, Circle Line and Downtown Line.

LCD Displays by Wei Long Electronics are installed in stations along the North South Line and East West Line

VPIS displays in trains (VPIS) and VFD displays in trains (STARIS)[edit]

The VPIS displays that displays green, red and orange in colour are installed in all C751A and C830s. These displays show the name of the next station, current station, door closing messages, interchange messages and occasionally the date and the time. However, the displays in the C751B trains were already replaced by the STARIS's VFDs, which has been the norm for all trains and it shows blue text.

SMRT Active Route Map Information System[edit]

The SMRT Active Route Map Information System (STARIS) is a new rail travel information system developed in-house by SMRT Corporation and has been a standard for all SMRT Trains (with the exception of C830s). The system comprises 4 units of ceiling mounted Vacuum Fluorescent Displays (VFD) and 8 units of active route map displays per train car.

Barrier-free facilities[edit]

A typical barrier-free route for an elevated station would start at the ramp entrance to the station and following the tactile path, would bring the elderly or the handicapped past the wider Automatic Fare Collection (AFC) gates & into the lift at the concourse level. The lift will feature braille plates on lift buttons, audio announcements and LED displays. Upon exiting from the lift at the platform level, the tactile path will lead them onto a designated waiting area where the doors of the middle train cars will be (and where the designated wheelchair space will be) to wait for the train. The tactile path may diverge at the concourse level to lead to the handicapped friendly toilet or passenger service centre. At all elevated stations where platform screen doors are not installed, tactile studs are installed along the platform edge to serve as reminder for them that they are getting too close to the edge.

The barrier-free route will differ slightly depending on whether the station is underground or located at the road median or design of the station but there will be at least 1 barrier free route for the disabled and the elderly at every station, leading from the street level to the platform level, though some stations will have more due to higher passenger traffic.

All stations on the North South Line (NSL) & stations constructed before 2001 on the East West Line (EWL) initially did not have barrier-free facilities and wider AFC faregates such as lifts, ramps & tactile guidance systems for the elderly and disabled, thus preventing disabled persons from entering the buses or trains, and they rely on their cars, taxicabs or vans. Their stations undergone their retrofitting programme between 2002 and completed in 2008, in a bid to encourage their commuters to take public transport.

Technical information[edit]

Otis is the supplier for the lifts at Changi Airport Station, the North East Line (NEL) and the Downtown Line (DTL), while Chevailer who is the distributor for Toshiba elevators in Singapore is the supplier for all other stations on the North South Line(NSL), East West Line (EWL) and the Circle Line (CCL). Kone is the supplier for escalators for all Circle Line (CCL) stations. These lifts typically have a capacity for 15 passengers with a total load of 1 tonne, though those at interchange or busier stations have been designed with a larger handling capacity. French-based CNIM is the supplier for escalators for all Downtown Line (DTL) stations.

References[edit]