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Spotters by SGTrains – To Prefix ‘1’ or Not to Prefix ‘1’?

Images: Screengrab from LTA/YouTube, LTA/Facebook, SGTrains

Images: Screengrab from LTA/YouTube, LTA/Facebook, SGTrains

As the newest 7th-gen Alstom Movia R151 train for the North-South and East-West MRT lines (NSEWL) is expected to enter passenger service soon, we asked Spotters earlier this year whether we should include the prefix “1” for the train’s numbering scheme on the website.

Read on to learn more about the survey results and our considerations about whether we will include the prefix “1” for the Alstom Movia R151 on the NSEWL train running status page.

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The Prefix “1” Dilemma for Numbering of Alstom Movia R151

What Is a Train’s Set Number?

Sticker for carriage 3028 of trainset 027/028. (Image: SGTrains File)

Sticker for carriage 3028 of trainset 027/028. (Image: SGTrains File)

Similar to the licence plate numbers for road cars, which can uniquely identify each vehicle, our MRT trains also have something similar – the train’s “set number”.

The train’s set number can be derived from the four or five-digit numbers inside and outside the train carriage.

For instance, trains on the NSEWL are currently identified by a four-digit format, where the first digit represents the carriage number, while the remaining three digits indicate the train’s identity and rolling stock model.

A train carriage with “3237” will indicate that this is the driving trailer carriage (indicated with “3”) of the 2nd-gen Siemens C651 train (indicated with “237”).

As such, a full 6-car NSEWL train will comprise two 3-car units of “3237-1237-2237” coupled with “3238-1238-2238”, which translates to the full 6-car train being identified as 237/238.

Why Was the Survey Conducted in the First Place?

Alstom Movia R151 with the prefix "1" on its exterior carriage sticker. (Image: LTA/Facebook)

Alstom Movia R151 with the prefix “1” on its exterior carriage sticker. (Image: LTA/Facebook)

When the first trainset of the Alstom Movia R151 was delivered to Singapore in February 2022, keen-eyed trainspotters noticed that the R151 bore stickers on the exterior with five-digit carriage numbers instead of the usual four-digit convention.

The driving trailer carriage of the R151 was indicated as “13805”, where there is an extra prefix “1” before the usual NSEWL four-digit numbering convention, “3805”.

This sparked debate and dilemma among trainspotters on whether the full 6-car train should be identified as 1805/1806 or just 805/806, like the past six generations of NSEWL trains.

The Key Findings From the Conduct of the Survey

The survey was conducted through the SGTrains Spotters Bot on Telegram over a period of 28 days from Jan 9 to Feb 5, 2023.

Results showed 29 per cent of voters favoured including the prefix “1,” while around 45 per cent preferred to remove it, and neither option received a clear majority of over 50 per cent.

Total 100%
Survey Options No. of Responses
Include Prefix “1” 29.0%
Remove Prefix “1” 45.2%
Abstain 25.8%

Our Considerations and Stance for spotters.sgtrains.com

In our train of thought, we considered both options and laid out facts and opinions on whether we should include the prefix “1” on the Spotters website.

Why There Should Not Be the Prefix “1”

Alstom Movia R151 trainsets in black boxes are identified without the prefix "1". (Image: Screengrab from LTA/YouTube)

Alstom Movia R151 trainsets in black boxes are identified without the prefix “1”. (Image: Screengrab from LTA/YouTube)

First, it is also noted in a recent video published by the Land Transport Authority (LTA) for public transport careers that the R151 trains are identified at SMRT without the prefix “1”.

Second, it also avoids confusion should two “M1” carriages couple together, though it is unlikely that this will happen as “M1” carriages are permanently coupled with the “DT” and “M2” carriages adjacently on either end.

Third, we also understand that the North East Line (NEL) uses “PV” (Passenger Vehicle) to identify trains, such as PV07 denoting trainset 7013/7014.

The PV terminology is, to our understanding, also used on the Circle Line (CCL), Downtown Line (DTL) and Thomson-East Coast Line (TEL), but we are not inclined to have the Spotters system use the PV terminology for NEL, CCL, DTL and TEL pages to ensure consistency.

Moreover, using the PV terminology for NEL can be confusing for those who have been identifying NEL trains through the conventional method of combining two 3-car units.

Why There Should Be the Prefix “1”

"30011 is the train's ID!" - Jurong Region Line (JRL). (Image: SGTrains)

“30011 is the train’s ID!” – Jurong Region Line (JRL). (Image: SGTrains)

First, it will be consistent with the future rolling stock models on the NSEWL, since the decommissioning of the 1st, 2nd and 3rd-gen trains is underway, and the other train models may also be decommissioned eventually.

Next, having the prefix “1” through cues from the train’s carriage sticker will make it consistent with other train lines, like “7” for NEL trains, “8” for CCL, “9” for DTL and “2” for TEL.

Moreover, at the Jurong Region Line (JRL) groundbreaking event earlier this year, an event showcase banner also mentioned the usage of the prefix “3” for JRL trains.

Our Stance for spotters.sgtrains.com

We shall continue to include the prefix “1” for R151 trains on the NSEWL train running status page of spotters.sgtrains.com.

Users of the Spotters Bot will have the liberty to include or exclude the prefix “1” when submitting their spottings, despite the system continuing to include the prefix “1”.

Let’s move forward and be ready to embrace change with the Alstom Movia R151 trains entering passenger service this year!



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Related Links
Alstom Movia R151 – SGTrains
North-South Line – SGTrains
East-West Line – SGTrains
Running Status of NSEWL Trains – SGTrains Spotters


External Links
Behind Every Journey | Careers in Public Transport | IMDC Engineers – LTA/YouTube [Accessed 16 Mar 2023]
“Cue the #DrumRoll~ 🥁 The first two of the new North-South and East-West Line (#NSEWL) trains are home! 🤩🚆🇸🇬 #ThisIsHomeTruly #ExcitedMuch” – LTA/Facebook [Accessed 16 Mar 2023]


Images: Screengrab from LTA/YouTube, LTA/Facebook, SGTrains, SGTrains File, SGTrains.
This article first appeared on SGTrains.

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