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Giving credit where credit is due: Khaw Boon Wan says SMRT CEO’s good leadership responsible for 2018’s train reliability




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On Monday, December 17, Khaw Boon Wan, Singapore’s Transport Minister, said that public transport has much improved this year. One big reason for this is the reliability of trains in 2018 compared to years past, something that Khaw credits to Neo Kian Hong, the new CEO of SMRT.

Speaking at the upgrading of the North East Line yesterday, the Transport Minister made note of decreased numbers of train delays, calling Neo, “a good leader.”

Khaw also said that every train line is expected to surpass 2018’s rail reliability target, with the sole exception of the East-West Line, which underwent tests for re-signaling early in 2018.

Channel NewsAsia reports the Transport Minister as saying, “In particular, the oldest line, North-South Line, which gave us big trouble in the last few years, the improvement is quite significant, more than 10 times improvement in reliability.

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It doesn’t mean that there will be no more train delays and disruptions, but frequency is getting much less frequent.”

He did caution, however, that improvements on the train lines are not completely done, saying, “So we are not quite out of the woods. We have to continue to focus on this area, we cannot rest on our laurels. But even the best of operators sometimes meet problems, so I hope to get Singaporeans’ understanding.”

Khaw praised Neo’s performance as SMRT’s CEO and emphasized his complete confidence in him.

“He has taken up his mission very diligently, he’s on the ground very often, in the depot, on the tracks, in the trenches, day and night.

I have full confidence. Part of the reason for the turning around of the North-South Line is also because of him, as well as the new chairman, Mr. Seah. So, you will see from this example that leadership matters. If you have a good leader, you can turn things around.”

Khaw also said that one signifier of the improvement of SMRT was that his own constituents in Sembawang GRC complained less about the North-South line in 2018 than in the past, saying that most of their complaints were actually about e-scooters.

Read related: New SMRT chief Neo Kian Hong walks the talk to get trains running


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