SMRT has “No Choice” but to Conduct Signalling Checks During Peak Hours, Leading to Increased Train Disruptions


Amid increasingly frequent MRT disruptions, with a particularly massive 2-hour train system halt on the North-South and East-West Lines (NSEWL) at the end of June 2017, SMRT Trains CEO Lee Ling Wee has said today that the organisation has “no choice” but to conduct checks on the new signalling system on the NSEWL:

“If we were to restrict the performance checks to only weekends, or engineering hours (i.e. 1.30AM – 4.30AM), it would take Singapore years to implement the new signalling system on the NSEWL
“This is why we have no choice but to conduct checks throughout the day, including weekday peak hours, when trains are running at high frequencies with heavy commuter loads.”

Responding to widespread criticism about the train faults, Lee said in the statement released on SMRT’s website that the organisation is “keenly aware” of the inconvenience commuters face and said:

“I would like to assure commuters that we are working hard to get over with this phase of system renewal on the NSEWL.”

This statement comes after scores of grievances have been aired on social media, with one online petition pushing Guinness World Records to honour SMRT for Highest Number of Train Delays going viral.

On why the project has been ongoing for so long, Lee said that the reason is because it takes time to customise imported hardware and software to the trains here.

“The system hardware and software we have are customised for the unique local environment. While the system supplier had experience working with other operators in the world, they are unable to simply replicate the well-oiled systems of Taipei, Hong Kong and London, and import those here.”
“This is unlike the Circle Line incident in 2016 when we dealt with unknown unknowns. We are adopting a planned, systematic approach to identify and rectify the issues in our signalling trials.”


  1. Do you see other countries testing it this way? All lame excuses used, if not done during peak hours will take years to resolve..? Please don’t insult the intelligence of the people…

  2. was there a public announcement in papers that inform them bout the Signalling checks? i am not sure but i dont think so, cos that’s the day where the system got hacked day isnt it..

  3. To hear the comment “no choice ” by the CEO is absurd and in short arrogant . Anyway, he won’t be asked to do hari-kiri on himself so of course he say no choice

  4. If they testing the load weight ,they can test at late night just put Weights.They are lazy by night.Lastly lack Precision Engineering.

  5. No choice? Th new signalling system has been on trial since 28 March 2017. It is now more than 3 months since the trial has taken place?

    > New Signalling System Trial on North-South Line Begins on … – SMRT
    > Mar 28, 2017 – The Land Transport Authority (LTA) and SMRT will trial the new signalling system on the North-South Line (NSL) during the last hour of passenger service from 28 March 2017. 2 Thesignalling system upgrade is part of LTA and SMRT’s on-going efforts to rejuvenate our ageing rail …

    According to SMRT at their blog,, the ‘new signalling system will be more efficient than the current system… will be able to safely reduce the distance between trains traveling on the network and further increase the number of trains. This means shorter waiting times for commuters.’

    Who were the suppliers for the new signalling system? Have the experts from the suppliers been activated to assist the SMRT, as it appears that SMRT engineers/managment are still fumbling with this new system, and causing more delays and breakdowns , than improving the efficiency, the goal of changing to the new system.

  6. Don’t think they are conducting test. If they are, they would give advance warning so commuters can plan their time. But somehow every time got train issue it became a test. U want to test till when? As and when test? Stop lying and lying like the govt. most 69% are idiots but hey I’m sure they haven’t reach retard stage yet..

    • Of course they are testing… they are testing commuters’ intelligence to believe it’s testing…. testing commuters’ patience to see how long they willing to wait for test to complete… testing how much grab and uber price will surge….. testing how buses cope with massive breakdowns….

    • Claudine Bctc @ very true. They can’t even come out with an intelligent excuse for their incompetence. How bad is that. Smrt and govt pls put more effort in your lies in future. U use to be excellent in it preciously. So disappointing.

  7. Has it to do with someone putting some retiring defence general in charge instead of promoting someone organic within the organisation ? Just like how someone’s wife have put in previously a retail CEO in charge ? I suppose they don’t want to believe this is the most fundamental problem with our system ?

  8. Again, you guys are focusing on the wrong thing.

    Sometimes, that’s part of problem solving.

    The real anger should be directed at how our public transportation came to be like this. The 10-15 years before he first major breakdowns, at the ministers and board of directors involved at making every systemic error that slowly builds up to what’s happening today.

  9. If test need to be conducted, then commuters should not be paying for the trips. SMRT should not be charging fares when they are testing the system. Instead they should pay the commuters for their time in participating their testing.
    SMRT had ran out of excuses for their incompetence?

  10. that’s why you should have military men commanding the trains. i command you follow. don’t need to explain, you just suck thumb. and no choice ok? i say one.

  11. The question is how long the signalling system will take? Years ? No date ? SMRT will then give the same excuses of testing & checking the signalling system. This is becoming endless.

  12. All these shows their incompetency to manage a public transport system. Where does the fault lies? Go back to the start, why was SMRT started in the 80’s, a mode of transportation for the public. It was privatized and turned into a profit driven corporation. The former CEO only focused on increasing the profits to benefit their shareholders by introducing retail businesses in every MRT stations and neglected servicing the trains and it’s other technical issues despite the problem being highlighted by it’s engineers and finally she stepped down. Where is she now? Probably still holding a high post in some other organisation. Or even an Ambassador to some country… If one notices, the trains may breakdown but the machine that deducts your EZ Link card never breakdowns… so do your own analyzes, my dear Singaporeans. And do not let this authority take you for a ride. 69% percent voted for this and balance are suffering due to this… as long a Government that practices Nepotism, the system will collapse one day due to complacency…

  13. I still remember the look of horror from a group of PRC tourists when they realised the escalator is only going up at Chinatown Pt station and they’d have to lug their luggages down a long staircase. Still don’t know the rational for not building two eacalators there previously. They ended up having to close that section as they built another one a couple of yrs later lol like they didn’t think things through when building that station

  14. So here’s a question. If you are acknowledging that you ar causing this level of inconvenience to commuters, wouldn’t the right thing to do be to give them a discount on the travel fare until SMRT resolves whatever it is that they are taking their time to fix? Wouldn’t that be more respectful than hiding from the issue?

  15. BS, likewise LTA contractors are doing road works during peak hrs be’cos no choice and caused jams when SG is telling companies to improve their productivities? Office holders sitting in their cosy office and fat salary just take the easy solution.

  16. Correct and agree with dannis Lee. But they dare not commit. They think this is their right to suka suka test for months. Another lousy CEO from the arm forces. Go back and command your soldiers. Hmmm… better not else use the soldiers for testing in the real battlefield to see how effective they are. Better join road works to improve road conditions which are bumpy or trim trees which most of them have come of age before whole thick branch drop on the road endangering humans and cars

  17. I think the smrt breakdowns are jus a distraction so not many ppl question the massive losses of GIC n Temasek and even lesser question on the CPF issue. You see the govt is very good at covering up till everyone forgets and the cycle begins again ?

  18. This line of lame argument is exactly the same lame excuse of “56 man years” given to the late President Ong Teng Cheong! I don’t buy this kind of bullshit which is rampant in the SAF, and is now in SMRT because smrt is now run by army people.

  19. Singaporeans have no choice but to suffer these disruptions and inconveniences after they voted for the pap government despite knowing that the trains are problematic.

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