One would have thought that after thirty years of train operations, we’ll know a thing or two about running trains. Apparently not, we need a panel of experts from around the world to tell us that our problems mirror those from around the world. There is a big difference here, SMRT CEO is paid millions of dollars while the other guys from around the world are only paid a fraction of what Desmond Kuek makes.
The new signalling system due to be implemented by end November this year has been under testing since March. This has caused much delays during peak hours.
In an apparent attempt to normalise the situation and manage commuter expectations, SMRT’s advisory board member Prof Clive Roberts said that we have only three and a half hours between revenue services; having more downtime would help with the testing. He also added that we do not have redundant or parallel lines so that we can shut-down an entire line for a week of testing.
Another board member, Professor Lee Kang-kuen, who has been involved in Hong Kong’s MTR, also noted that the metro did not shut its lines when it carried out similar signalling works.
One of our regular readers, Jarius Lau has written to us and said that out of the three essential transport services, train, bus and taxies, the train service is the least complex and that the current problems can be resolved by upgrading the infrastructure.
But what seems to be lacking in the current narrative is the utter neglect of infrastructure during the tenure of Saw Paik Hwa, when there was a shift in their strategy to focus on monetising the retail space around the MRT station, which led to the current state of affairs.
To reframe it as a “teething” problem is not accurate and it seems like the personnel concerned are sweeping issues under the rug.
Didn’t our Minister Chan Chun Sing famously say that we have “predictive maintenance?” Are we supposed to be more advanced than the rest of the world with this predictive thingy?
The only thing we can foretell these days, is that there will be a another breakdown soon, maybe this week!