In-depth look at MRT electrical system needed

Most of the recent MRT train breakdowns, including last Wednesday's occurrence ("Commuters hit with 2-hour MRT disruption" and "Worrying pattern cannot be ignored"; both published last Thursday) have been due to electrical faults.

The electrical power faults reported were due to electrical overload, resulting in the tripping of circuit breakers. These are protection devices that cut off any abnormally high electrical surge or earth leakage to prevent serious damage to the electrical distribution network and equipment.

When the MRT system began operations in the 1980s, it was designed to support a certain number of trains and level of travel frequency.

Since then, ridership has shot up substantially and more trains have been added to run at higher frequencies that the existing electrical distribution system cannot handle.

The recent frequent electrical overloading, power trips and resulting fires are telltale signs of an under-sized, under-designed electrical system.

The Land Transport Authority (LTA) must review and upgrade the electrical distribution system to support higher ridership numbers.

It is not just about maintenance, but also design, operation and monitoring, especially of the electrical system and controls.

The LTA must assemble a team of professional electrical engineers, consultants and foreign experts to review the entire MRT system's electrical design.

Aaron Ang Chin Guan

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 30, 2015, with the headline 'In-depth look at MRT electrical system needed'. Print Edition | Subscribe