Speaking to the media on Wednesday (6 Jul), Hong Kong’s Secretary for Transport and Housing Anthony Cheung Bing-leung said that his Office was not aware of quality issues with SMRT’s C151A trains before FactWire’s report on July 5. The investigative news site revealed that 35 trains were being secretly recalled and repaired by their mainland Chinese manufacturer CSR Sifang Locomotive & Rolling Stock Company Ltd (CSR Sifang).
Factwire claimed that contrary to Mr Cheung’s statement, several emails sent to the Hong Kong Government shows that the authorities were aware of quality issues with the C151A series trains supplied to Singapore since early 2015.
In an email addressed to Mr Cheung on 30 Jan 2015 and in reporting “irregularities” in the MTR’s tender process for new urban line trains, the sender made reference to the “Singapore C151A train underframe sub-floor cracking problem”.
The email sender claimed: “Thousands of brackets had been added to the relevant areas, as a temporary measure to ensure the safety integrity of the underframe sub-floor member to prevent the equipment from falling down onto the track. Ultimate solution will require the fleet to be recalled back to Qingdao for replacement of the sub-floor.” (Read Factwire’s full report here: https://www.hongkongfp.com/2016/07/07/hk-govt-received-complaints-singapore-mtr-train-problems-tendering-early-2015/)
LTA has however said that defects on SMRT trains ‘not safety-critical’, and that ‘it is not unusual to detect some defects on new trains’. (LTA’s statement here: https://theindependent.sg.sg/it-is-not-unusual-to-detect-some-defects-on-new-trains-lta-works-overtime-to-assuage-public-concerns/)