In the year 1987, the first MRT section commences from Toa Payoh to Yio Chu Kang. I could still remember that my mother bought me, my brother, and my grandmother the commemorative tickets so that we could take the MRT train and enjoy the honour to take a ride on the MRT trains when the service had just started.
Back then, none of us knew how it would be like to ride a MRT train. It was a totally new mode of public transport. I could vaguely remember it was a novel experience for myself when I first sat on the MRT train. I recall the sound of the train going "whooosh...", for the train ran faster than the speed of a public bus, which was my main form of transport prior to the start of the SMRT system. I also remember myself taking train rides to and fro Yio Chu Kang and Toa Payoh station a few times that very day with my mother, alighting at each of the train stations simply to see how different each one looked.
The commemorative ticket issued in year 1987 for travel on the first day of operation of the SMRT train system. Thanks to my dear mother who has actually kept this ticket for twenty years!
Twenty years later, the SMRT is celebrating its 20th anniversary. In conjunction with its 20th anniversity, the SMRT Silver Tribute Fund has been set up. If I have understood correctly, the main objectives of the SMRT Silver Tribute Fund are to dignify the lives of the elderly and strengthen the families and communities that care for them. I very much like the concept behind what drives the fund: "They (the elderly) have given us and our nation their best years. Now, let us give them something in return to say Thank You for Everything!."
On 11 Feb 2007, I attended the SMRT Open House at the Bishan Depot, and it was an interesting visit for me. If you would like, please join me as I share about my visit to the Bishan Depot.
The SMRT train system has now become an important part of the lives of commuters in Singapore. I realise that many of the times when I meet my friends, we would often choose our meeting point to be at one of the SMRT train stations. For myself, I take the SMRT train to work everyday. It was hence exciting for me to find out more about the elements behind-the-stage that make the SMRT train system work and serve thousands of commuters in Singapore.
In the morning of 11 Feb 2007, before 10 a.m., I hop onboard one of the SMRT trains from the Ang Mo Kio SMRT train station and got myself a free ride to the Bishan Depot. It was my first time riding a SMRT train to the Bishan Depot and you could probably imagine how fascinating it was for me.
When the train touched the entrance of the Bishan Depot, it took quite a while for the train to travel to the deeper depths of the depot before the passengers could alight at a platform which was nearby where the funfair and the main site of the SMRT Open House.
It would be difficult for me not to go for the guided tour around the Bishan Depot since that was available on that day. But before that, I went to check out how participants of the SMRT Cram Jam event squeeze themselves onto a SMRT taxi, bus and one of the SMRT cabins.
After much waiting, it was my turn to join one of the guided tours. To start the guided tour, participants were treated to a Corporate video of the SMRT Corporation. Next on the programme was a presentation to a railway stimulation in the Model Railway Room. I love to learn about how things work.
The guided tour also brought us to the Rolling Stock workshop, the department which does train overhaul, i.e. the maintenance and servicing of the parts of the train. Here, I get to see how the various parts of the air-con (evaporator, condenser etc) of a SMRT train look like. The children who were in the same tour group as yours truly looked delighted to see all these parts which are normally concealed from the eyes of the commuters.
And I had the pleasure to walk up a refurbished SMRT train and for the first time in my life, get down the train from its head. I realised that there are some well-informed participants onboard the same tour group that I was in. They asked very good questions.
Afterwhich, the tour took us to the Communications Workshop where we were treated to a demonstration of the SMRT train's public address announcement system. In addition, we get to see how the closed circuit television works. Cool!
The public address announcement system.
See how intrigued the children (and the adults) got when we learnt about how the closed circuit television works.
Next on the programme was a visit to Automatic Fare Collection Workshop. I realised that my eyes were interested to look at the sensors on the faregate. The reason could probably be that for the new faregates, there are more sensors. That means that there is a less likelihood for myself to be caught trapped by the gates.
Finally, the last stop for the tour was at the Training Track. Here, participants of the tour get to see the various types of tracks. Finally, I realised during the tour that the stones on the train tracks that are above ground-level are actually meant for noise reduction.
Underground tracks found commonly under areas highly densed with tall buildings, e.g. Raffles Place. Notice the rubber paddings under the tracks. The rubber paddings can help absorb the vibrations from the moving trains.
If you wonder how a train could change from one lane of the track to another, here's a clue.
One thing that struck me about the tour was the dedication that the various staff who have given the demonstration have demonstrated. I could sense that they serve with a lot of pride and joy. A special thanks to the folks who have made travelling between places to places much convenient for us commuters.
After the tour, I walked about the depot for a while before taking a SMRT train back to the Ang Mo Kio train station. On my way back, I met Pinkie and her children. Such a coincidence.
Whatever it is, I have had an enriching time at the depot even though I didn't join in any of the games at the mini fun-fair. What's more, by joining the guided tour, I have indirectly contributed to the SMRT Silver Tribute Fund.
Note: This post was republished on 15 Feb 2007 with minor editions.