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

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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.”
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