LTA responds to train chartering incident

Land Transport Authority​ spokesman said on Friday that all rail licensees must seek prior approval from it before operating any chartered train services.

It explained its reasons, saying: "LTA has a responsibility to safeguard the interests of the commuting public, to ensure that train services are provided as scheduled, and any additional chartered trips do not adversely affect the quality of train services for commuters and the maintenance of the trains and rail network."

"It is, after all, taxpayers and public transport commuters, who fund the train system."

The spokesman's comments came on the back of Tuesday's incident, which saw Anglo-Chinese School​ (I) students and staff travel on five chartered trains to watch their C Division rugby team play against St Andrew’s Secondary School.

SMRT had not sought approval prior to carrying out the service.

No further action 

But LTA will not be taking further action against the train service operator.

"We have reminded SMRT to respect and fulfil its licence obligations, and that its primary focus must continue to be on providing timely and good service to public commuters," the spokesman said.

This is not the first time trains operators have provided charted services. Trains were previously charted for students attending National Education shows.

But in those cases, LTA - being a member of the National Day Parade Executive Committee - had "oversight of transport arrangements required" and worked closely with partners such as SMRT.

"​That was why for these past charters, SMRT was not required to specifically apply to LTA for permission," the spokesman said.

LTA said it would consider future applications by operators to provide chartering services on a case-by-case basis.