Singapore

'Aim to match HK MTR's reliability'

Khaw appoints adviser, tells SMRT, SBS Transit...

Rail operators SMRT and SBS Transit must seek to raise reliability levels of Singapore's MRT to match that of Hong Kong's Mass Transit Railway (MTR), Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan said yesterday.

While the situation in Singapore has improved, it is "still not good enough", he said in a blog post.

The average distance travelled before a delay of more than 5 minutes is 137,000 train-km for the North-South and East-West Lines, far short of MTR's performance of about 300,000 train-km.

Mr Khaw noted that there were 10 major disruptions - defined as delays exceeding 30 minutes - across Singapore's rail network in 2014.

These greatly inconvenienced and angered commuters, he said. While there were 12 such incidents on the MTR, its network is significantly longer. He said:

"The consensus view is that we have under-invested in rail maintenance, and our engineering capabilities in this area are still lacking.

"We will need to ramp up investment in this area. We will need to recruit and retain more skilled workers."

He also announced that he had asked PUB chairman Tan Gee Paw to be his "Advisor on Rail Transformation". Mr Tan's priority will be to ramp up rail reliability.

"This will require a serious re-focus on the part of every player (Ministry of Transport, Land Transport Authority, SMRT, SBST) that we are in the engineering business, founded on strong engineering expertise and capabilities," he said.

Mr Tan, he said, had built up a local core of engineers in PUB and also developed the water engineering field.

$420M FOR BUSES

It was also announced yesterday that more than one-third of the $1.1 billion in taxpayer's funds set aside to boost Singapore's bus fleet has been disbursed.

The Land Transport Authority said that about $420 million has gone towards buying and operating new buses, the introduction of new bus services and improvement of existing bus services.

As of Sept 30, 690 government-funded buses have been added under the Bus Service Enhancement Programme, it said.

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