Deploy a Fixed Set of Trains for Changi Airport Extension – Can the MRT Network Be Made Safer?

Changi Airport MRT station

It has been a week since the restriction and closure of Jewel & Passenger Terminal Buildings at Changi Airport to the general public.

Despite that, we believe that more measures can be implemented on the MRT network, in light of the more viral and transmissible COVID-19 variant.


[Update – 11 Jun 2021] Safe and Progressive Reopening of Changi Airport PTBs and Jewel

Jewel & Passenger Terminal Buildings at Changi Airport, which have been closed to the public since 13 May 2021, will be progressively reopened, the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) and Changi Airport Group (CAG) announced on Friday (Jun 11).

“The PTBs will remain closed to the public to allow the airport community to adapt to the new zoning measures, which require significant operational adjustments,” added CAAS and CAG.

1) Deploy a Fixed Set of Trains for Changi Airport Extension

A Kawasaki Heavy Industries C151 train at Tanah Merah MRT station

File Photo: A Kawasaki Heavy Industries C151 train at Tanah Merah MRT station

The Changi Airport Extension and the East-West Line (EWL) share a common train fleet, and depending on schedule, the same train could be deployed to both lines within the same day. But by doing so, can increase the risk of the virus being able to be spread to other stations.

We suggest that having a fixed set of trains that are deployed for the Changi Airport Extension, would better contain the virus and thus reduces the risk of it spreading onto the EWL.

2) Reduce or Disallow Cross-Deployment of Station Staff

It was shown during the pandemic early last year (most notably with a popular fast-food chain), that cross-deploying staff to different work location greatly increases the risk of virus transmission. Thus, we suggest that cross-deployment of MRT station staff should be avoided unless necessary, e.g. requirement for manpower due to disruption of train services.

Should there be a need to cross-deploy station staff, we suggest that meal/break times should be segregated between permanent and cross-deployed station staff, as it will be a necessity to remove face masks then (you wouldn’t eat with your mask on, would you?).

3) Implement Early Closures to Deep Clean Stations

Expo MRT station on the East-West Line (EWL)

File Photo: Exterior of Expo MRT station

With the restriction and closure of Jewel & Passenger Terminal Buildings at Changi Airport to the general public, it makes sense to implement early closures as there is a lesser amount of retail outlets opened at Changi Airport.

We suggest that implementing early closures can reduce the under-utilisation of both manpower and MRT trains on the Changi Airport Extension, and more importantly, deep cleaning can also be performed during the early closures to further reduce the risk of virus transmission.

Rail Operators’ Efforts To Reduce Spread of COVID-19

COVID-19 Measures Taken by SMRT

SMRT staff cleaning on MRT trains to prevent COVID-19

Source: SMRT/Facebook

In a Facebook post on Tuesday (May 18), SMRT emphasised that to further protect commuters during Phase 2 (Heightened Alert), they have been regularly sanitising and cleaning high commuter touch points on board trains and at stations.

They added that they are also spraying antimicrobial coating for longer-lasting protection against viruses and bacteria.

COVID-19 Measures Taken by SBS Transit

SBS Transit staff cleaning on MRT trains to prevent COVID-19

Source: SBS Transit/Facebook

In a Facebook post on Tuesday (May 18), SBS Transit mentioned that as part of intensified cleaning & disinfection efforts, they have been using Electrostatic Disinfectant Spray technology on board trains. They mentioned that “this can keep the virus at bay for about six months.”

Similar to rail operator SMRT, they have also been wiping down high touch point surfaces to keep commuters and staff safe.


Check Out More Related Posts

14 Day Closure of Changi Airport – MRT Station Remains Open, Access to Airport Is Restricted

Handy Tips for Commuting in Phase 2

Related Links
COVID-19 Measures on our Train Network – SGTrains
East-West Line – SGTrains

External Links
S$15 Million Support to Help Aviation Workers Adjust to Enhanced Measures – CAAS
“We understand that some of our commuters still need to get around on public transport during this period of heightened alert (Phase 2).” – SMRT/Facebook
“As part of our stepped up cleaning and disinfection efforts, we’re also using Electrostatic Disinfectant Spray technology on our buses and trains.” – SBS Transit/Facebook

Images adapted from SMRT/Facebook and SBS Transit/Facebook

Interested in reading our future posts?
Follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Telegram to get the latest updates!


 

Loh

I'm a train enthusiast who is broadly interested in the different means of technology which powers Singapore's train network.