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ST defends LTA’s purchase of PRC trains by saying US ones have cracks too

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By: 永久浪客/Forever Vagabond

ST in a report today (‘US-made LRT trains also had cracks’) attempts to give an impression to the public that cracks found in train bodies are “normal” by pointing out that US-made LRT trains used in Singapore have cracks too.

It tries to downplay the defective China-made MRT trains, which were hot in the news these few days. On social media, netizens condemn LTA for lack of transparency and some even demand that Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan to “surface” so as to give an explanation on the matter.

Apparently, LTA and SMRT have been secretly shipping the China-made trains back to China for repairs since 2 years ago. Neither LTA nor SMRT discloses the matter to the public. It was a Hong Kong media, FactWire, which got wind of it from its mainland sources recently. It then sent its reporters to Singapore to do an investigative reporting last month.

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ST wrote today (http://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/transport/us-made-lrt-trains-also-had-cracks), “The defective China-made MRT trains in the news are not the only ones to have developed cracks here. The entire first batch of 19 US-made Bombardier trains on the Bukit Panjang LRT also developed cracks during their service here.”

Kawasaki to take over the manufacturing of train car body

But the difference is, as admitted by ST, those cracks found on LRT trains were fixed in Singapore through simple welding. No trains was sent back to the US.

The Chinese trains, on the other hand, had to be shipped back and according to FactWire, the whole aluminum body of the train cars have to be discarded and the Chinese partner, Japan’s Kawasaki Heavy Industries, has decided to take over the manufacturing of the train car body from the Chinese, leaving the Chinese to be only responsible for the assembly of the train parts.

Also, those minor cracks found on the LRT trains were only developed after 16 years in operation. For the Chinese-made MRT trains, however, cracks started to appear in 2013, in less than 2 years of operation.

Cracks found in the Chinese trains were said to be due to impurities in the aluminum used to cast the chassis of the trains.

In any case, regardless of ST’s attempts to downplay the matter, the reputations of LTA and the Ministry of Transport have already been diminished by the incident. Furthermore, the silence of Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan on the entire matter is not giving any credence to LTA, MOT or Mr Khaw’s reputation.
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