Delivering the designs for a major expansion of an underground rail depot required the breaking down of information silos and the streamlining of processes to meet a tight deadline

The Kim Chuan Depot, located in Hougang, Singapore, consists of an underground rail depot with a multi-storey bus depot located above it. The depot provides maintenance, stabling and operational facilities for the Mass Rapid Transit’s (MRT) Circle Line. When it officially opened in March 2009, the Kim Chuan Depot was the world’s largest underground depot in its class, with a total area of 11 hectares. It is 800 metres long, 160 metres wide and 23 metres deep.

The Land Transport Authority (LTA), a statutory board under the Ministry of Transport that spearheads land transport developments in Singapore, decided to expand the existing Kim Chuan Depot as part of a larger expansion project to provide additional train stabling spaces and maintenance for the MRT system. Established in September 1995, the LTA was the result of a merger between four public sector entities: the Registry of Vehicles, the Mass Rapid Transit Corporation, the Road & Transportation Division of the Public Works Department and Land Transportation Division of the Ministry of Communications. The agency is responsible for planning, designing, building and maintaining Singapore’s land transport infrastructure and systems.

The LTA began planning its expansion project to provide a greener and more inclusive public transportation system and utilised OpenBuildings Designer to streamline the process and complete the project within the tight timeframe.

Part of a larger expansion

The expansion of the current Kim Chuan Depot was announced by LTA in tandem with the Circle Line 6 (CCL6) extension. The four-kilometre CCL6 will have three stations and close the loop for the Circle Line by connecting HarbourFront Station to Marina Bay Station. This project is now under construction and is expected to be completed by July 2026.

The CCL6 extension called for the Kim Chuan Depot to be expanded underground to almost double its capacity from 70 to 133 trains, increasing its dimensions to 1,000 metres in length and 160 metres in width.

The integrated depot will also house 550 buses on the plot of land above the underground train depot and will include washing and refuelling facilities.

When all the CCL6 stations are finalised by 2025, the Circle Line will have a total of 33 stations, including 12 interchange stations with other MRT lines and an expanded rail network. The rail will provide a direct route between areas in the west and key employment areas in the central business district, as well as upcoming developments in the Marina Bay area.

The two main challenges that the team faced were the limited project timeline and cross-collaboration on an integrated design among multiple disciplines across disparate locations. Team members wanted to ensure that they had enough time to train their modellers on how to model the complicated structure and architectural elements.

Benefitting from interoperable applications Using Bentley’s OpenBuildings Designer, the team saved time and improved collaboration, meeting their project deadlines and bringing together all participants in an easy and collaborative manner. OpenBuildings Designer provided a seamless transition for MicroStation users because it is built on the same open modelling environment. Its similarity to MicroStation meant the training process for incoming modellers was swift and effective since many of the modellers were MicroStation-based drafters.

The modellers quickly learned how to complete fast and complex geometry modelling in OpenBuildings Designer. Additionally, because OpenBuildings Designer is a single, integrated application for architectural, structural, electrical and mechanical engineers, the project team was able to achieve time savings during the design development phase because they could rapidly design complex buildings and effortlessly integrate designs across disciplines. These combined time savings helped LTA meet the design deadlines on time.

To improve collaboration, the team created iModels with OpenBuildings Designer to share information with all involved parties. By using iModels, the team could keep working in a mixed environment, using both Bentley applications and other third-party software. OpenBuildings Designer allowed the LTA project team to reference other organisations’ models while retaining their properties. This interoperability helped with coordination purposes and interference detection.

Reducing environmental impacts, project time and cost

By using Bentley technology to convert other models into iModels, the project team could easily reference designs in OpenBuildings Designer and have fully coordinated structural dynamics (CSD) models. This improved coordination and eliminated design errors and costly construction rework. The team built high-performance assets and was able to reduce environmental impacts by improving building asset performance, such as its energy usage.

Overall, OpenBuildings Designer helped LTA reduce time, thereby reducing the final delivery cost. As with similar projects, most of the project’s time and cost is lost in managing various disciplines’ specific modelling capabilities and not having an application that can carry the project throughout the entire lifecycle.

OpenBuildings Designer, however, includes BIM processes that fully integrate all disciplines. No longer were the various disciplines working in segregated silos; instead, they were all combined in real time during the development of the design. The application is designed so that it can take the project throughout its entire lifecycle, from concept to use and maintenance, which delivers added value to the design team and to the project owner.


Client: Land Transport Authority

Location: Singapore

Completion: 2025



Steve Cockerell

Industry Marketing Director – Rail

Bentley Systems

Tel: +44 (0)207 861 0900

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