Govt to tap on "collective wisdom" of industry to battle unknown rail problems, says Khaw

Minister for Transport Khaw Boon Wan said the LTA would set up a panel to examine the reliability of the rail system.
Minister for Transport Khaw Boon Wan said the LTA would set up a panel to examine the reliability of the rail system. ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN
 

SINGAPORE - The Land Transport Authority (LTA) will set up an expert audit panel to examine the reliability of the rail system, said Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan on Wednesday (Dec 30).

In a blog post, Mr Khaw said panel members will be drawn from German, Hong Kong and Japanese rail operators, and they will visit Singapore regularly to help improve rail operations and maintenance.

The panel will be chaired by PUB chairman Tan Gee Paw, whom Mr Khaw had earlier appointed as his rail advisor.

Mr Khaw noted that train disruptions can sometimes be caused by "unforeseen factors" not attributable to maintenance and ageing issues.

To battle what he called "unknowns", Mr Khaw said "an army of experts with years of experience" will need to be built up.

In the interim, however, help will be sought from the "collective wisdom" of the industry, through industry specialists, academics and foreign rail operators, he said.

 

The expert audit panel is one example of this. Separately, the LTA has also appointed another advisory body to study the train network's power supply system,

Mr Khaw said "rats", or unforeseen issues, can cause system-wide problems and are the most difficult to prevent.

An example of a "ratty problem" involves the added capacity on existing lines by introducing more trains, and also running them at higher frequencies, Mr Khaw added.

"While the Land Transport Authority (LTA) has ensured that these additional trips are kept within the power capacity that the system was designed for, greater power loading means thinner buffers for faults. Thinner buffers can become a breeding ground for "rats"," he said.

Mr Khaw said the LTA has been rapidly upgrading the power system, but faces the constraint of limited engineering hours.

"We would like to do the upgrade faster and complete it earlier, but LTA has the same constraint in the shortage of engineering hours (when train services cease) for these major works and maintenance. But LTA will do its best to speed up the work," he added.