The Kawasaki Heavy Industries C151 trains form one of the six types of electric multiple unit rolling stock found on Singapore's Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) system. These are the oldest trains on the system, which have been running since the MRT system's inception in 1987, and are still in operation today. 66 trainsets consisting of 6 cars each were purchased.

These trains were manufactured from 1986 to 1989 in three batches, headed by Kawasaki Heavy Industries (21 trainsets), collaborating with Nippon Sharyo, Tokyu Car Corp and Kinki Sharyo (which built 15 trainsets each) as a Japanese consortium. The trains underwent refurbishment by Hyundai Rotem from 2006 to 2008. After the major incidents on 15 and 17 December 2011, especially 7 May 2012; further plans were made to upgrade its mechanical components in order to increase its reliability.


Tendering processEdit

With the construction of Mass Rapid Transit underway in 1983, Contract 151 called for the procurement of MRT trains - 25 trains for the Phase One and 41 trains for the Phase Two. In what Financial Times described as "a time when manufacturers were begging for orders" for the global rolling stock market, competition for the contract was intense; At least 8 companies from around the world submitted bids for what they had nicknamed as the "Big One". Bidders included Metro-Cammell (with Singapore Automotive Engineering), Kawasaki Heavy Industries (with three Japanese manufacturers), MAN AG (with AEG, Siemens and Brown, Boveri & Cie), Francorail (with Alsthom-Alantique, Sofretu, and Singapore Shipbuilding and Engineering), ASEA (with Sembawang Shipyard), and a Bombardier Transportation-led consortium (with Hawker Siddeley Canada and Brown Boveri Canada).

Metro-Cammell is because of the British expertise, due to the Hong Kong MTR. Kawasaki Heavy Industries is chosen also because of the Japanese food products. MAN AG is due to the AEG company, together with Siemens and Orenstein & Koppel, ASEA is due to the British company, bowed with Sembawang Shipyard, and Bombardier Transportation, with Hawker-Siddeley Canada. Competition for the contract was so fierce that it involved last minute discounts, offers of free parts and even allegations of sabotage. Therefore, SMRT trusted Metro-Cammell, Kawasaki Heavy Industries and MAN AG. Metro-Cammell also delivered a concept mock-up and was originally thought to be the favourite to win the contract. However, analysts later became concerned that a measuring error involving the London Underground 1983 Stock during the evaluation period could sink their bid.

In 1984, the Japanese consortium of Kawasaki Heavy Industries with Nippon Sharyo, Tokyu Car Corp and Kinki Sharyo was awarded Contract 151 at a cost of S$581.5 million for the construction of 396 passenger cars. Kawasaki won the contract with its bid 12% lower than any other bidder, aided by favourable financing from Mitsui and positive economic conditions in Japan. The award was the largest single contract awarded in the initial construction of the system. Kawasaki also promised to supply $20.9m worth of complimentary spare parts after delivery. The loss of Contract 151 was a massive financial blow to Metro-Cammell, and they were consequently forced to reduce its workforce by half later that year.

Initial designEdit

A separate mock-up was manufactured in Japan after Kawasaki won the contract.[1] It was shipped to Singapore and put on public display during the 1984 National Exhibition held in November at World Trade Centre.[1] The mock-up featured three choices of seating arrangements and colour schemes, and the members of the public were invited to give feedback on these options.[1] The finalized interior design of the C151 trains consisted of a fully longitudinal seating arrangement.[2] The bucket seats were made of plastic and glass partitions separated the seating areas from the passenger doors.[2] Straps line for standing passengers were installed in the middle of every car.[2] The colour scheme for every consecutive car's interior is distinct, allowing for easier identification of that train car in cases of fault reporting by members of the public.[2] Originally a orange colour scheme was applied to the driving trailer cars, a blue interior for the second and fifth motor cars, and a green colour scheme for the two center motor cars.[3] There are 9 seats between 2 doors, compared to the reduced seating of 7 after the first round of refurbishment.[2]

First upgrade and second upgradeEdit

On 3 September 2004, Mitsui & Co, Hyundai Rotem, RM Transit Technology (Sub-Contractor), Lexbuild (Sub-Contractor) and Hyundai Rotem Company (Main Contractor) received an order to refurbish all 396 carriages costing S$142.7 million.[4] The renewal works include the refurbishment of seats and other interior fixtures, allocation of space for wheelchair personnel, the upgrading of onboard telecommunications equipment, public announcement system, and the improvement of the internal appearance of the cars.[5] This project was headed by a Singaporean Dr. P. Sarathy with representatives from Hyundai Rotem Company, Mr. Lee Dong Hoon and Mr. Kim In Taek.Template:Citation needed The company chose this option in favour over new rolling stock, which would have cost S$792 million.

The exterior of refurbished trains resemble that of C751B rolling stock. The interior fittings were ripped out totally, replaced with white walls and new seats (the seat colours for the driving trailer were changed from orange to red) that were pushed back to allow more standing space.[5] The end of each row of seats has two darker colored seats, which are the priority seats. Seats of the new cars were increased in length from 43 cm to 48 cm, having four seats from each seven seats to have a dark version of the corresponding colour of each car and the rest of the seats in every seven seats with a lighter one.[6] The number of seats per row now 7 down from previously 9, was a decision which found unpopularity among commuters due to less seating capacity.[7] Extra standing area has also been provided to increase the capacity of the refurbished cars.[6] 10 trainsets, later increased to 24 in 2012 and 66 in 2016 also have two rows of seats in the middle replaced with metal rails to create more standing space. This move is due to the growing population in Singapore aimed at targeting 5.5 million in 2012. The upgraded C151s had brought back their wheelchair logo, the builder and refurbishment plate being put up.

The engine components have been retained, having performed better than expected.[5] The wheelchair space is available only on the end of two middle cars nearest to the lifts in above ground stations. LED displays that blink when doors are closing were introduced except that it is positioned in the upper middle section of the door.[5] More speakers and advertisement panels were also introduced. Hand grips were moved to the support bars of the seats on the ceiling and grabpoles are now located near the doors and at both ends of each carriage. The air-conditioning system has been changed to match the system used similarly by the C751B cars, with air-conditioning vents and 'in-flow' fans installed.[5]

Third upgradeEdit

Following the major train disruptions on 15 and 17 December 2011, the Committee of Inquiry (COI) found that despite the first refurbishment made to the C151 rolling stock "there does not appear to be any upgrade in terms of engineering components".[8] The COI was particularly critical of its inadequate and aging emergency battery installed on the C151 and also recommended the installation of a Train Integrated Management System (TIMS) found on the C751B and C151A trains.[8]

In response, SMRT announced that it was replacing important engineering components of all C151 trains by 2019.[9] This included a changing out of the existing Mitsubishi Electric propulsion system for the newer Permanent Magnet Synchronous Motor by Toshiba, a technology currently utilised by the Tokyo Metro 1000 series and 16000 series.[10] 055/056 and 131/132 were installed with PMSM. In tandem with the upgrading works to replace the existing signalling system on the East-West Line and North-South Line to the newer Thales SelTrac signalling system, new equipment had to be installed at the passenger compartment of the trailer cars.[11]

However, LTA has halted the refurbishment programme soon, on March 2017 due to the concerns and issues with older trains. LTA is considering to replace older trains with newer ones despite the frames of the older trains being sturdy for decades.[12]

Experimental programmesEdit

Trainsets 001/002 and 003/004 were built with interiors installed with frames over priority seats for purposes of placing signage, which remained all the way up to the point of refurbishment.

Kawasaki built a four-car unit to serve as a money train.[13][14] This was decommissioned from service in 2007 and both set 301 and 302 are used by the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) for training purposes. The mock-up C751B is used for the ITE College West for training purposes.

Passenger announcement and information systemsEdit

These trains originally had no visual passenger information systems and station announcements had to be made by the train operator.[15] An automatic audio announcement system using voice synthesizers was installed on each train by September 1994.[15] The first iteration of the door closing buzzer announcements, which replaced the initial door chimes, was fully introduced by April 1997.[16]

SMRT first attempted to install a passenger information system SMRTime on trains in 1999 using LCD displays on the train 131/132, which were since removed.[17] In November 2006 the doors of three cars (carriage number 3006, 1006 and 2006) were each installed with a dynamic in-train system displaying station information for testing, similar to the ones in use by Hong Kong's MTR.[18] An initial prototype of STARIS developed in-house and based on the existing Automatic Transit Info System,[18] it was removed before the end of the year without entering service.

Two years later, 4 units of Vacuum Fluorescent Displays (VFD) were mounted on the ceiling and 8 units of dynamic route maps mounted above every door in each car for 2 month in trainset 053/054 for trials.[18] This new SMRT Active Route Map Information System (STARiS) was then progressively introduced to all C151 trainsets, and subsequently on C651 and C751B trains for a total cost of S$12 million.[18][19] This amounted to S$20,000 per car.[18] It became standard equipment for all new rolling stocks subsequently introduced on the East-West Line and North-South Line.

Safety systemsEdit

Kawasaki Heavy Industries C151 trains are equipped with Automatic Train Control (ATC), supplemented with Automatic train operation (ATO). At a fallback level, Automatic Train Protection (ATP) is available.

Livery and numberingEdit


The cars had an aluminium-alloy double-skinned construction, and were delivered unpainted in order to save time.[2] A red adhesive strip ran through the length of the cars at the middle, to match the operator's red identity.[3][2] The decision not to paint the cars gave a shiny appearance upon delivery, but as dirt and grime started to accumulate over time it became a recurring problem that haunted the operator repeatedly and attracted several public complaints.[20] In response, then-MRT Corporation built a wash machine at Bishan Depot in an attempt to clean up the cars' exterior proper.[21] A series of repainting programmes began in 1998 to clean the exteriors of the trains, just before the refurbishment started. It was not until refurbishment that the problem was solved once and for all by covering up the cars' exterior entirely with adhesive, giving a new livery that is similar to the newer C751B and C151A rolling stocks.

The car numbers of the trains range from x001 to x132, where x depends on the carriage type. Kawasaki Heavy Industries built sets 001 - 020, 051 - 062, and 093 - 102, Kinki Sharyo co-built sets 021 - 030, 063 - 072, and 103 - 112, Nippon Sharyo co-built sets 031 - 040, 073 - 082, and 113 - 122, and Tokyu Car Corp co-built sets 041 - 050, 083 - 092, and 123 - 132. Individual cars are assigned a 4 digit serial number by the rail operator SMRT. A complete six-car trainset consist of an identical twin set of one driving trailer and two motor cars permanently coupled together.[8] For example, set 001/002 consists of carriages 3001, 1001, 2001, 2002, 1002 and 3002.

Since its introduction, the C151 rolling stock has been involved in three high profile incidents:

  • On 5 August 1993 two C151 trains collided at Clementi station because of a 50-litre oil spillage on the track by a maintenance locomotive, resulting in 132 injuries.[22][23]
  • In the major MRT disruption on 15 December 2011, one C151 train (trainset 067/068, T139 in the COI) was stalled in the tunnel and its backup battery failed.[24] The passenger compartments in T139 experienced a blackout and loss of ventilation, leading to one passenger smashing the window of one train door to avoid suffocation.[24][25] The battery's failure in this incident led to particular criticism by the COI on the condition of the aging emergency batteries installed on all C151 trains.[8] SMRT has since proposed an upgrading plan to address this issue.[9]
  • On 17 May 2010, Oliver Fricker trespassed and vandalised car 1048 (trainset 047/048) with graffiti at Changi Depot.[26][27] The graffiti was not spotted until the car was filmed and uploaded onto YouTube by a trainspotter, as it was initially mistaken for an advertisement.[28][29] Fricker was convicted and sentenced to seven months' imprisonment and caning.[29] The incident caused a public outcry not seen since Michael P. Fay's caning as the depot was considered a sensitive installation, and the public perceived this incident to have serious security implications.[27]

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