Even our MRT train seats can be upcycled??

Singapore Green Plan
3 min readOct 26, 2022


The Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) system in Singapore is known to be clean, fast, and efficient.

Here’s some trivia: Trains are usually refurbished after 15 years of being in operation and decommissioned after 30 years.

So, the question is, what happens to trains that have reached their end-of-life?

Upcycle them of course!

Typically, decommissioned trains are sent to scrapyards to be broken down into smaller pieces. While the metal parts can be recycled, train parts made of fibre-reinforced polymers, such as train seats, are not easily recyclable.

Some parts of the train, such as the seats (left) and strap hangers (right) are made of fibre-reinforced polymer. While durable, these parts are not easily recyclable [Image credit: LTA]

That is why the Land Transport Authority (LTA) sought to repurpose certain train parts instead, such as seats, seat frames, strap hangers, grab poles and the system maps.

To appreciate how much waste can be saved from upcycling the train seats alone, let’s do some math. There are a total of 106 North-South & East-West Lines trains scheduled to be decommissioned. Each train has 6 carriages, with an average of 40 seats per carriage. That is potentially 26,000 seats or 156 tonnes of plastic waste diverted from the landfill — the weight of four train carriages!

Other train parts that can be repurposed include the seat frames (top), grab poles (middle) and even the system maps (bottom) [Image credit: LTA]

Saving a seat for future generations

The train parts upcycling initiative started in late-2021 and will continue as trains are taken out of service one at a time. So far, over 480 seats and more than 400 train parts have been donated to various organisations for upcycling purposes.

Have you seen these in your community? They can be found at Nee Soon, Marsiling, Yew Tee and Jalan Besar [Image credit: LTA]

And with support from the SG Eco Fund, some train seats will be repurposed to include fabricated legs and donated to education institutions.

Little ones at Skool4Kidz Fernvale Campus enjoying the upcycled train seats while learning about the history of Singapore’s transport system [Image credit: Skool4Kidz]
Other interesting ways that the train parts have been repurposed: Grab poles transformed into support handles for the elderly (top) and a Door Unlock Handle Panel transformed into a plant holder (bottom) [Image credit: LTA]

“No effort is too small when we are trying to be sustainable. Every seat repurposed for the community is one more seat saved from the landfill.”

— The Upcycling Team from LTA

Kudos to the LTA team for “saving a seat for our future generations”. Not only has this initiative provided seats for the community, waste has been diverted from the landfill. At the same time, a slice of Singapore’s public transport heritage has been preserved for the next generation 😊 [Image credit: LTA]

Connect with the LTA team at LTA_train_repurpose@lta.gov.sg.

If you’ve got an idea like the LTA team for a project that supports environmental sustainability and involves the community, do consider applying for the SG Eco Fund!



Singapore Green Plan

Read our stories here on the official Medium for the Singapore Green Plan 2030. Find out more: greenplan.gov.sg