Singapore's MRT lines to be graded on green-ness

MRT lines will be graded according to how environmentally friendly they are, in a step towards making Singapore’s transport system greener.

The Circle Line, the first to be graded, scored a gold ranking for measures such as re-using energy produced by a braking train to power up another train, and installing escalators that slow down or stop when not in use.

The grading by the Building and Construction Authority is based on an ascending scale of certified, gold, gold plus and platinum.

It allows the Land Transport Authority (LTA), which builds MRT lines, to identify areas for improvement, Transport Minister Raymond Lim told an international conference on urban transit yesterday.

Rail operators will also gain from reduced energy consumption and added hedging against a rise in fuel costs, he said.

Welcoming the move, Singapore Environment Council executive director Howard Shaw told The Straits Times: ‘Green-marking the various lines will help in driving innovations in greener green transport.’

The transport sector consumes about 5 per cent of electricity in Singapore, with a big chunk going to the MRT, based on official 2005 figures. Industry used 43 per cent, buildings 31 per cent and households 18 per cent.

Transport’s appetite for electricity is expected to grow as more MRT lines open in the next 10 to 15 years. But the MRT is still greener than buses or cars as a mode of transport.

Each MRT passenger generates a carbon footprint of 13.2g per kilometre, compared with 73g by bus and 118g by car, based on figures from transport operator SMRT.

New technology can reduce the carbon footprint, said Mr Lim. He added that Sweden’s railway network runs entirely on renewable energy harnessed from wind and water.

Singapore’s technological solutions include ‘regenerative’ train brakes such as those on the Circle Line.

These brakes shave 1 per cent off energy consumption per year - enough to provide power for about 90 HDB flats for a year - the LTA said.

More green practices are being specified in tenders for new lines.

The 42km Downtown Line, to be completed in 2017, is expected to be more energy efficient than the Circle Line, with better train brakes and lighter trains, said LTA deputy director Melvyn Thong.

Attention is paid up to the day the train goes for scrap.

Mr Thong said aluminium, copper and steel parts, which make up 90 per cent of the Downtown Line trains’ weight, are designed to be easily removed and recycled.

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