Familiarity with rail operations doesn't mean ability to cope

It was puzzling to read that only SBS Transit and SMRT will be invited to take part in the tender for the first ridership contract for the Thomson-East Coast Line (TEL) ("New MRT line to run on contracting model"; last Saturday).

The reason given by the Land Transport Authority was that the two operators are familiar with the local operating context.

But, given the spate of rail disruptions in recent years, it would appear that familiarity does not mean the operators can cope with running another rail line.

SMRT does not appear to be getting ahead of the constant faults in its trains, tracks and signalling.

Likewise, SBS Transit has its fair share of issues, with the latest being a platform screen door at a Downtown Line station falling out of place ("Loose bolt caused platform door incident at Downtown station"; Oct 19).

Opening the tender up to reputable international rail operators, like in the bus industry, will stimulate the local rail industry. It will improve the competitiveness of the industry and bring about an increase in the standard of rail operations, maintenance and safety.

Opening the tender up to reputable international rail operators, like in the bus industry, will stimulate the local rail industry. It will improve the competitiveness of the industry and bring about an increase in the standard of rail operations, maintenance and safety.

Singapore's drive to plug into the global economy can be enhanced only if it has a first-class rail network that supports its overall economic plan.

The commuting public will also greatly benefit from a well connected and efficiently run rail system.

Gabriel Cheng Kian Tiong

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 09, 2016, with the headline 'Familiarity with rail operations doesn't mean ability to cope'. Print Edition | Subscribe