Trainmaker to step up checks

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Defects in 26 MRT trains sent back to China

The Land Transport Authority (LTA) and operator SMRT reiterated last night that trains on the North-South and East-West Lines were safe for service.

Hairline cracks in the 26 MRT trains being sent back to China for repairs were due to a problem during the manufacturing process, LTA said.

Laboratory tests after the cracks were found in July 2013 showed that they were caused by a localised impurity in the aluminium car-body material that occurred during the manufacturing process.

The trains have been progressively sent back to the manufacturing factory in China since July 2014. As they were under warranty, the contractor is replacing the entire car body shell, as well as covering the shipping costs.

Each replacement takes up to four months. Repairs of the trains would be completed in 2019.

LTA said: "To minimise the impact on our train operations in Singapore, as well as the lack of facilities and space for repair works of this nature at our depots, only one train is sent back to the factory in China at any one time."

To date, five trains have had their car-body shells replaced and a sixth is undergoing repairs.

Hairline cracks on the surface of the car-body bolster, an aluminium alloy structure which supports the car-body on the bogie, were found during a routine inspection of the trains made by made by China Southern Railway (CSR) Qingdao Sifang Locomotive and Rolling Stock Company.

LTA engineers and its contractor, as well as an independent third-party assessor TUV Rheinland, concluded after tests that the cracks would not affect the operational safety of the trains, said LTA.

In an e-mailed statement to Reuters yesterday, CSR Sifang said: "We have adopted a series of measures to ensure this incident can be satisfactorily resolved.

"We will refine our requirements for suppliers and raw material suppliers, and improve quality management standards in all aspects."

In a separate statement, Mr Patrick Nathan, vice-president, SMRT Corporate Information and Communications, said: "Passenger safety is paramount to SMRT, and under no circumstance will this be compromised.

"Any train that is assessed to be defective or unfit for passenger service is not put into service.

"The C151A trains which were discovered to have hairline cracks are the newest in our fleet serving the North-South East-West Lines.

"We have been closely monitoring the situation with LTA and the manufacturer, and the defects have been deemed to be not safety-critical."