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Khaw: Train system is complicated, “it will fail sometimes, hopefully rarely. But it will fail.”

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Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan acknowledged that the Oct 7 MRT tunnel flooding incident was caused by a failure of organisation management at SMRT, and not a failure of engineering, yesterday.

Speaking at the 5th Joint Forum on Infrastructure Maintenance at the Environment Building on Scotts Road, Khaw asserted: “SMRT will learn from it and emerge stronger. I have full confidence in Chairman Seah Moon Ming and his team.”

Khaw further requested that the public understand and support SMRT and its employees:

“Not just for Seah Moon Ming, but also for his management, and the rank and file at SMRT. That would make his job much easier, and raise the morale of everyone down the line. Remember Seah Moon Ming is not Superman; none of us are.”

The Minister also acknowledged that the authorities are working on “what could and should have been done years ago” and that the least members of the public can do is offer moral support:

“Out of six major renewals, two are done, four more to go, and they are also major ones, especially power supply.
“Beware too that SMRT may experience other incidents along the way as we try to catch up in short order on what could and should have been done years ago. The hardest role is always the men and officers fighting in the trenches. The burden on their shoulders is the heaviest. And their families are also affected if they see that their loved ones are being screamed at, or castigated.
“The least that we can do is to provide moral support.
“Fortunately, the pride in SMRT still lurks among the rank and file. And we can build on that. They need our full support above all else, so that they have the time and the space, and the encouragement, for them to put in their very best.”
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The Minister also took the opportunity to announce that the Public Utilities Board (PUB) and the Land Transport Authority (LTA) – a statutory board under the Transport Ministry – have formed a joint Standing Committee to regularly review tunnel flood prevention works.

Comparing the North-South line – the oldest Singapore train network built 30 years ago – to the latest MRT line, Khaw asserted that the design of train lines have improved over time. In spite of this, there is a need to plan for contingencies since the complicated train system is bound to inevitably fail at times:

“And if you pay some attention, you know that people design for all kinds of contingencies – backups – because you know this is a complicated engineering piece of work, and it will fail sometimes, hopefully rarely. But it will fail.”

He added: “We’re not gods.”

LTA, PUB to set up committee on tunnel flood prevention

"The pride in SMRT still lurks among the rank and file. We should build on that," says Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan.

Posted by Channel NewsAsia on Monday, 4 December 2017

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