No early trains for Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore; SMRT refutes claims it did not give ample notice

Participants at the Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore on Dec 6, 2015.
Participants at the Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore on Dec 6, 2015.ST PHOTO: DIOS VINCOY JR

SINGAPORE - SMRT has refuted claims that it did not give ample notice to organisers of the Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore (SCMS) that it would not be providing early train services for this year's race on Dec 4.

Explaining the late announcement to participants- just three weeks before race day - SCMS organisers said on Nov 14 via Facebook that they were only informed "recently" that train services could not be provided, despite discussions starting in June.

They added that there was "track maintenance" to be done on the race day.

This has been sharply refuted by rail operator SMRT Corp on Friday (Nov 25), which said that it had told SCMS organisers of its decision in May.

"The organiser was given ample notice to plan alternative travel arrangements and communicate these early to its participants," said Mr Patrick Nathan, SMRT's vice-president for corporate information and communications.

He added that SMRT is reaching a "critical point" in its network maintenance and renewal works, that include "sleeper replacement, re-signalling and third rail replacement efforts".

"Such projects are planned as far as 12 months in advance in order for engineering staff to maximise track access time on viaducts and tunnels," Mr Nathan said.

"Every minute of track access time is valuable because engineering staff have around three hours every night to set up the work site, perform the maintenance or renewal work and then dismantle the work site in preparation for the first train service."

Since 2011, SMRT has been starting train services earlier on the SCMS' event day, to bring participants to the marathon, which will flag off as early as 4.30am this year.

The SCMS, now its 15th edition, is the largest running event in Singapore, and organisers have set aside 52,000 spots across five race categories this year.

In place of train services, first-time organisers Ironman Endurance Asia said they have arranged for buses to ferry participants from 30 pick-up locations across the island. It is also working with taxi companies to bring participants to the race site.

Ironman also added that discussions with SMRT started back in May.

The firm declined to say when it was informed by SMRT that train services could not be provided, when asked by The Straits Times.