Should the Siemens C651 Refurbishment Project be scrapped?

A refurbished second-generation Siemens C651 (SIE) train for the North-South Line (NSL) and East-West Line (EWL) awaiting for scrap at a scrapyard in Tuas

Last Saturday (Apr 10), a local trainspotter spotted the decommissioned refurbished Siemens C651 train EMU 217/218 awaiting to be scrapped at Tuas. This was similar to a previous spotting of a decommissioned C651 train at a Tuas scrapyard last September.

However, should the Siemens C651 Refurbishment Project be scrapped?


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Siemens C651 Mid-Life Refurbishment Project

The Siemens C651 (SIE) trains are the second-generation of trains for the North-South Line (NSL) and East-West Line (EWL) and have been in passenger service since 1995. These trains were initially slated to undergo the Mid-Life Refurbishment Programme between 2016 to 2018.

New & Improved Train Systems

The interior of a refurbished Siemens C651 (SIE) train which is now scrapped

The interior of a refurbished Siemens C651 (SIE) train. (Photo: SMRT)

The refurbished C651 trains would feature new or refurbished train sub-systems, such as new air-conditioning systems, electric doors, brakes, propulsion systems, auxiliary power system, as well as improved interior and exterior changes.

The new IGBT-VVVF Permanent Magnet Synchronous Motors (PMSM) from Toshiba would have also replaced the original GTO-VVVF traction control from Siemens AG, as part of the Mid-Life Refurbishment Programme.

Singapore Rail Engineering (SRE)

A refurbished Siemens C651 (SIE) train EMU 227/228 doing mainline testing

A refurbished Siemens C651 (SIE) train doing mainline testing. (Photo: alpha380)

Singapore Rail Engineering (SRE), a subsidiary of SMRT Corporation, was established in June 2014, providing in-house maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) services. SRE was appointed to refurbish the C651 trains in 2016 and had completed the refurbishment of EMU 227/228 in mid-2018, where it was spotted undergoing several tests along the mainline.

However, EMU 227/228 has never entered passenger service, and SMRT subsequently announced the discontinuation to refurbish the Siemens C651 fleet on 16 September 2018.[1] This has led to a situation where a fully upgraded (albeit not fully tested) train becoming a liability.


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Replacement with Additional Bombardier MOVIA trains

Artist Impression of the new Bombardier MOVIA R151 trains for the North-South Line (NSL) and East-West Line (EWL) which will be replacing the Kawasaki Heavy Industries C151 (KHI) trains, the Siemens C651 (SIE) trains and the Kawasaki-Nippon Sharyo C751B (KNS) trains

Artist Impression of the new Bombardier MOVIA R151 trains. (Photo: LTA)

The Land Transport Authority (LTA) announced on 28 September 2020 that 40 additional Bombardier MOVIA trains were purchased to replace the existing 19 Siemens C651 (SIE) and 21 Kawasaki-Nippon Sharyo C751B (KNS) trains.

These new trains use the same design as the Bombardier MOVIA R151 trains and will arrive in batches starting from 2024.

This contract also covers the decommissioning of the existing SIE and KNS trains.

Click to learn more about the Bombardier MOVIA R151 train »


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Continue Testing or Scrap?

A refurbished Siemens C651 (SIE) train at a scrapyard in Tuas to be scrap. EMU 217/218

A refurbished Siemens C651 (SIE) train awaiting for scrapping. (Photo: alpha380)

With the cancellation of the refurbishment project, it can be implied that the funds for the prototype refurbished train to continue testing would have been reallocated and thus, the train would not be able to continue its tests for commissioning.

Was it a sensible decision then to task a 2-year-old subsidiary to perform in-house refurbishment works? This is in comparison to the first-generation Kawasaki Heavy Industries C151 (KHI) trains, which refurbishment project was out-sourced to Hyundai Rotem. The South Korean company had a massive portfolio with over 35-years of experience in rolling stock manufacturing.

Additionally, LTA has ownership of all rail assets and leases them to the operator under the NRFF. The transition to the NRFF may be another likely catalyst for the operator to make the unfortunate decision to scrap the train instead of increasing funding for the completion of the prototype train.

This has essentially made the train completed but redundant, which had cost the operator a hefty amount to have completed the initial design, testing and fitting of the refurbished train – which never saw the light at the end of the tunnel to serve passengers.

Click to learn more about the Siemens C651 (SIE) train »


Related Posts

The End of the Siemens C651

Fate of the Kawasaki-Nippon Sharyo C751B?

40 additional new trains for NSEWL

Related Links
Siemens C651 – SGTrains
Bombardier MOVIA R151 – SGTrains
Kawasaki-Nippon Sharyo C751B – SGTrains
Kawasaki Heavy Industries C151 – SGTrains
North-South Line – SGTrains
East-West Line – SGTrains

External Links
New Rail Financing Framework (NRFF) – LTA
“🚇 We are buying another 40 new trains for our North-South and East-West Lines (#NSEWL) from Bombardier Transportation! 🎉” – LTA
LTA Buys 40 New Trains for the North-South and East-West Lines – LTA
Bombardier to Supply 66 New Trains for North-South and East-West Lines – LTA
Permanent Magnet Synchronous Motor – Toshiba Asia

References
[1]: SMRT决定停止第二代地铁列车中期翻新工程 / SMRT decided to stop the mid-term refurbishment of the second-generation subway trains – 早报/Lianhe Zaobao

Featured Images adapted from alpha380, SMRT and LTA


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Matthew Ng

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