INTRO: A twin-unit multi-function vehicle will undertake regular inspection of Singapore’s automated North East Line

FACED with stringent requirements on availability and performance, Singapore’s Land Transport Authority decided to adopt advanced monitoring and infrastructure maintenance technology for the automated North East Line which was due to open in June (Metro Report 03 p20).

Earlier this year NEL operator SBS Transit took delivery of an EM80 TWIN two-car recording vehicle, known as the MFV or Multi-Function Vehicle. This has been supplied by Plasser & Theurer in co-operation with Speno International, and Harsco Track Technologies has delivered a rail grinding machine. The two machines are being procured by LTA and handed over to SBS as part of the basic package of equipment for the NEL. Recognising that ’the cost of ownership is high’ for such specialised vehicles on a single 20 km route, the company is looking at the possibility of sharing the equipment with rival metro operator SMRT, but as yet there have been no formal discussions.

The MFV will normally run in engineering hours, when the line is closed to passengers between 01.30 and 04.30. However, it is able to run at 65 km/h, and can thus operate between service trains when necessary. As the MFV is not fitted with automatic train protection, it has to run coupled between a pair of Sch