System Maps Over the Years

Over the years, our train network has evolved from a humble two-line system into a convenient and reliable train network that spans over 230km across the whole of Singapore. The system map has been constantly updated to reflect the changes to the rail network, as well as accommodating newer train lines to fit into a map.

1990 – The North-South and East-West Lines

Recreation of the old Singapore MRT Map by Calvin Teo

The initial maps from the completion of the initial system in 1990 depict each bound as a separate colour to allow navigation into the train network, which was opened three years earlier in 1987.

Stations are coded based on the region they are in; E for East, W for West, N for North, C for City and M for Marina. The branch line stations are prefixed with the letter B.

The branch line was merged with the North-South Line in 1996 with the opening of the Woodlands Extension.

Mini Fact: The 9th station from the city centre are stations built with an additional platform to facilitate train withdrawals to the nearby train depot. It could be a mere coincidence but nevertheless an interesting fact.

2003 – North East Line, Changi Airport Extension and Dover Station

(Map from 2006 with the opening of Buangkok station)

The system map was revamped in 2002 to accommodate the new North East Line, as well as additional stations for the East-West Line. Lines were recoloured into a single colour and End-Destination Numbers were included to represent the direction of travel.

Stations were renumbered with a new prefix for each line, as well as the inclusion of the bus interchanges near stations. Dover station also opened and was tagged with the station code EW22.

From this map onwards, there were also reserved station codes placed into the map, giving hints of a new station that would open in the future along the existing lines. Three of the station codes are missing in this map, try to spot them!

Learn more about the End-Destination Numbers in our previous post here:

Fun Fact Friday: End-Destination Numbers


Mini Fact: Expo and Changi Airport stations were initially coded as EW28 and EW29 respectively. However, there were plans to extend the East-West Line westwards with the Boon Lay Extension hence it was renumbered to CG1 and CG2 to represent the Changi Airport Extension.

2009 – The Circle Line

(Map from 2012 with the opening of the Circle Line Extension)

A fourth MRT line coloured orange was added into the system map. There were no significant changes to the system map during this period.

Mini Fact: Initially, text with the Circle Line orange background was coloured white across the whole system. It was subsequently updated in 2013 to allow clearer legibility of text on the orange background. The colour hue of the Circle Line was also changed from a bright orange to a darker orange to allow a better contrast on signages across the system.

2013 – Second revamp of the System Map with the Downtown Line

(Map from 2019 with the opening of the Downtown Line Phase 3, and closing of Ten Mile Junction LRT Station)

The Land Transport Authority consulted Transport Design Consultancy (TDC) as part of their long-term consultancy services to upgrade the existing branding of the entire train system.

The introduction of new out-of-station interchanges at Bukit Panjang, Newton and Tampines stations meant that a redesign was needed to include such information, thus a new station caplet design was implemented to improve the system map and wayfinding signage. There were also additional enhancements to existing glyph icons such as the new MRT and LRT pictograms, as well as the inclusion of stations near cruise centres.

Mini Fact: When TDC designed the new proposed system map, a grid system was utilised for the diagrams to follow. This allows the system map to not only be simplified, but also neat, allowing for an easier expansion to the system map.

2020 – The third revamp with the Thomson-East Coast Line

The system map was revamped yet again to make wayfinding easier and the addition of the Thomson-East Coast Line. The Circle Line will intuitively serve as a focal point in the new map to help commuters quickly orientate themselves and plan their journeys.

Additional contextual elements such as prominent landmarks on the system map will also help commuters identify their corresponding stations.

Station caplets are now prominently used as the identifying factor for the train network, as well as the reduced emphasis on certain pictograms such as the MRT and LRT icons, and the End-Destination Numbers.

Our version of the System Map

The SGTrains Train Network Map was designed to be closely related to the current system maps in stations but with slight improvements to it.

One of the small features that was included in our map is with the interchange nodes, where the link between the station nodes corresponds to how the station is linked in real life. Positioning the interchange nodes this way will help save a small amount of transfer time, which will greatly help if you need to rush for that last train!

Interchange nodes used to be part of our old system maps, which were a useful feature. A simplistic caplet design helps to simplify the system map, creating a cleaner look. At the end of the day, there is no correct way of designing a train system map – but we designers feel that these maps must convey the intent of our minds.


Matthew Ng

An avid train enthusiast since 2009, he designs graphics and infographics to promote the little known facts about Singapore's train network.