Kawasaki Heavy Industries C151

Kawasaki Heavy Industries (KHI) C151
SMRT C151 Train
SMRT C151 Train
In service November 1987 – Present
Manufacturer Kawasaki Heavy Industries (with Nippon Sharyo, Tokyu Car Corp, and Kinki Sharyo)
Constructed 1986 – 1989
Number built 396 vehicles (66 trainsets)
4 vehicles (money train)
Formation 6 cars per trainset
Fleet number 001/002 – 131/132
Operators SMRT Trains
Depot(s) Bishan, Changi, Tuas and Ulu Pandan
Line(s) served North South Line & East West Line
Technical Data
Car body Double-skinned Aluminium-alloy
Doors 8 per car
Electrification 750 V DC Third rail
Track gauge Standard Gauge (1435mm)

The Kawasaki Heavy Industries C151 is an electric multiple unit (EMU) train operating on the North South Line (NSL) and East West Line (EWL). Entering service in 1987 in tandem with the opening of Singapore’s Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) system, these trains are the oldest rolling stock currently in operation.

Sixty-six trainsets were procured, each formed of six carriages, along with a single four-car set formerly used as a money train. They were manufactured from 1986 to 1989 by a Japanese consortium led by Kawasaki Heavy Industries, and joined by Nippon Sharyo, Tokyu Car Corp (now J-TREC) and Kinki Sharyo.

Between 2006 and 2008, all trains underwent mid-life refurbishment works led by Hyundai Rotem. A partially-completed End-of-Life Upgrading Project was shelved in 2016 when the Land Transport Authority (LTA) decided to procure new R151 trains in favour of refurbishing the C151 trains. The retirement of C151 trains began in 2020.


Initiated in 1983 whilst MRT construction was ongoing, Contract 151 (C151) for the procurement of rolling stock was called for 150 train cars with an option for 246 more. In the highly competitive bidding that followed, a Japanese consortium led by Kawasaki Heavy Industries (along with Nippon Sharyo, Tokyu Car Corp and Kinki Sharyo) was awarded the contract in 1984, for 396 train cars at a cost of S$581.5 million.

These trains were built in Japan by all four companies between 1986 – 1989, to agreed specifications. As a result, there are no comparable differences between all trains. Each 6-car train is actually two 3-car trainsets coupled together, each comprising of a Driving Trailer (DT) and two Motor Cars (M1 and M2).

Technical Information

On the exterior, trains are coated in an aluminium shot-peened surface. The train employs Direct Current (DC) motors which incorporate a 4-quadrant GTO chopper control system and regenerative braking for high energy efficiency. Although the reliability of the Gate turn-off (GTO) thyristor system was not well proven at the time, the decision to adopt it was sound and resulted in cost effectiveness.

The chopper control system propels trains using high power electronic switching devices to save energy and give passengers a smoother ride.Regenerative braking tales advantage of braking to return power to the system. Coasting (running without motor power) after high acceleration over a short section also saves energy.


The first train was delivered to MRT Corporation (MRTC) on 8 July 1986 at Bishan Depot. These trains entered revenue service on 7 November 1987 with the opening of the North South Line between Yio Chu Kang and Toa Payoh. The exterior was clad in shot-peened aluminium alloy, appearing as silver with a central red stripe running the length of the train. On the interior. each car featured a different colour scheme, namely orange, blue and green from each end to the middle cars.

Between 1992 and 1994, all trains were installed with message synthesisers that automatically played announcements following a successful trial in 1990. This eliminated the need for train operators to manually announce arriving stops.

Mid-life refurbishment works were carried out between 2006 and 2008 by Hyundai Rotem, Mitsui, RM Transit Technology and Lexbuild, at a cost of S$142.7 million. The exterior was painted in black with stripes of red and grey similar to the C751B trains. On the interior, wider seats were installed, with 7 seats in between doors, down from the previous 9, and two wheelchair spaces were added in the middle 2 carriages. In addition, interior fittings were replaced for a fresh new look, along with many other running components. Brighter saloon lighting, line flow fans, an improved PA system and trifuricated grab poles were among the new features.

In 2008, SMRT Corporation and the Land Transport Authority (LTA) announced that ten C151 trains would have two rows of seats removed from the middle of every car, creating a standing area that would fit more commuters during the peak hours. By 2015, all trains were modified to this standard. Also in 2008, the SMRT Active Route Map Information System (stylised as STARiS) was first trialled on trainset 053/054, consisting of 4 Vacuum Fluorescent Displays (VFD) mounted near the ceiling and 8 active route maps mounted above every door in each car. It was progressively installed on all C151 trainsets from 2009 onwards.

In 2013, SMRT announced an End-of-Life Upgrading and PMSM retractioning project that planned to replace the legacy DC traction motors and 4-quadrant/GTO chopper controllers from Mitsubishi Electric with PMSM traction motors and IGBT-VVVF controllers from Toshiba. This upgrade would reduce power consumption by 30%, noise levels by 12 dB and be easier to maintain. These upgrades were part of a planned replacement of all major engineering components on all C151 trains planned for completion in 2019. Train sets 055/056 and 131/132 received the new motors as a trial and were placed on revenue service in July 2015.

Between 2014 and 2015, all C151 trains were upgraded with Thales SelTrac Communications-Based Train Control (CBTC). Additional signalling equipment was installed at both ends of every train, replacing 2 seats at each end with a signal box. Also in 2014, two additional rows of handgrips were progressively installed.

Despite SMRT having already purchased the PMSM propulsion system and committed to its installation, plans were put on hold when LTA acquired all of SMRT rail assets in August 2016 under the New Rail Financing Framework. Instead of continuing with SMRT’s planned upgrades, it announced a month later that it would be calling for a tender of new trains to replace all C151 trainsets. Contract R151 for the replacement of these trains was published on 13 April 2017 and subsequently awarded to Bombardier on 25 July 2018.

As such, only 6 C151 trains received the IGBT-VVVF traction upgrade and PMSM motors. These trains are:

  • 025/026
  • 055/056
  • 065/066
  • 095/096
  • 109/110
  • 131/132

Current Design

All C151 trains are comprised of six cars with open gangway connections between all cars. Each car has eight doors, four on each side. The interior features longitudinal seating in three colors: red, blue and green from the end cars to the middle cars. Wheelchair bays are located in the middle of each train, at doors 12 and 13. Priority seats are located in every car, near the doors. All trains are equipped with STARiS, SMRT’s active route information system comprising ceiling-mounted textual displays and active route maps above every door.

Emergency Exits are located at both ends of every train, with a ramp that can be deployed in an emergency. Within the cabin, Emergency Communication Buttons are located at the side of the train doors, enabling passengers to speak with staff in an emergency. Fire extinguishers are also placed in every car.

Train Formation

A six-car trainset is formed of two three-car sets permanently coupled together. Each set comprises one driving trailer (DT) and two motor cars (M1 and M2). As such, the running configuration of a C151 trainset is DT–M1–M2–M2–M1–DT.

Every car is identified by a four-digit number ranging from x001 to x132, where the first digit x is carriage identifier. The driving cab is 3, followed by the second car using 1 and the third car using 2. The last three digits refer to the 3-car trainset of which the train is comprised of. SMRT’s 66 trains are actually 132 3-car trainsets coupled together in an even-odd arrangement, i.e. Set 001/002, Set 003/004 and on to Set 131/132.

As such, a sample Set 001/002 will contain the carriage numbers 3001-1001-2001-2002-1002-3002. Depending on the direction of travel, the sequence may be reversed. On rare occasions, trainsets may be cross-coupled.

All trains were construction by four Japanese manufacturers as follows:

  • Kawasaki Heavy Industries built sets 001–020, 051–062, and 093–102
  • Kinki Sharyo built sets 021–030, 063–072, and 103–112
  • Nippon Sharyo built sets 031–040, 073–082, and 113–122
  • Tokyu Car Corporation built sets 041–050, 083–092, and 123–132

Money Train

A four-car money train, set 301/302 manufactured by Kawasaki Heavy Industries, was in service from 1987 to 2007. After being decommissioned in 2007, two cars were relocated to Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) training grounds and can be seen on Google Satellite view, northwest of the National Shooting Centre. (GPS Coordinates: 1.376328, 103.677889)

Disposal of Decommissioned Trains

Main Article: Decommissioning of C151 trains

In May 2019, LTA called a tender for the disposal of 66 C151 trains under Contract R151D – Disposal of Decommissioned Trains. This tender was awarded to Toyotron (Pte.) Limited at a price of S$828,000.00 (Payable to LTA) on 16 December 2019.

The retirement of C151 trains formally began in 2020. Authorities have added that they were open to proposals from public and private organisations that sought to repurpose these old cars that would otherwise be scrapped, such as for education and training purposes as well.

On 5 March 2022, cars 3095 & 1095 (part of trainset 095/096) were moved to Changi Exhibition Centre to be part of the film set for ThirdRail, while car 2095 was sent to Toyotron Pte Ltd for scrapping.

A few C151 train cars are preserved at SAFTI City for military training purposes.

Coupled Trainsets

In the event of a train fault, a working train can be used to haul a faulty train back to the depot by means of coupling.

The following pictures were taken on 13 February 2017, where a faulty train on the North-South Line led to service delays during the morning peak hour. The faulty train was stopped at Jurong East Station, and returned to Ulu Pandan Depot in a 12-car formation.


External Links & References

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11 thoughts on “Kawasaki Heavy Industries C151

  • 15 September 2023 at 10:41 PM

    I hated the C151.

    They spam EWL, have weird airplane smell and they just feel old.

    • 10 January 2024 at 9:42 AM

      NSL: KHI, SIE and KNS

      EWL: full KSF

      NSL full of KSF Spam so irritating.

  • 22 June 2020 at 2:38 PM

    C151 045/046 has been withdrawn as of today.

    • 14 July 2020 at 5:09 PM

      yep & scrapped at Kiat Lee Kranji


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