Rail reliability down slightly in first half of the year

Commuters on the platform at Jurong East MRT station on April 25, 2016, The screen shows a notice about the disruption in train service.
Commuters on the platform at Jurong East MRT station on April 25, 2016, The screen shows a notice about the disruption in train service. PHOTO: ST FILE

Major disruptions still high with East West Line the worst performer, LTA figures show

Singapore's rail reliability slipped slightly in the first half of the year even as the overall picture remained somewhat rosier when compared with last year's.

The MRT network chalked up one disruption for every 158,000 train-km travelled in the first six months, a shade lower than the 159,000km posted in the first three months, but higher than the 133,000km registered for the whole of last year.

Major disruptions on the network - or those lasting 30 minutes or more - remained high. According to figures just released by the Land Transport Authority (LTA), there were 10 on the MRT system and eight on the LRT lines in the first six months of the year.

In the first three months, there were four recorded on each of the two networks. And for the whole of last year, there were 15 on each.

In the latest statistics, the LTA declared figures separately for the North South and East West lines. Previously, the two were declared as one. As such, the massive breakdown which crippled the two lines in July last year is now tallied as two breakdowns, bringing the total number of rail breakdowns last year to 30, instead of 29.

The LTA also counted this April's power outage, which affected three MRT lines and one LRT line, as four incidents.

The East West MRT Line was the worst performer in the first half of the year. It chalked up four major breakdowns in the first six months - already exceeding the total of three it had for the whole of last year.

ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT

It is clear that more must be done to overcome the system reliability challenge and regain passenger confidence. ''

DR LEE DER-HORNG, National University of Singapore transport researcher.

The line had a spate of breakdowns in the last three weeks.

Surprisingly, the problematic Bukit Panjang LRT performed better than the newer Sengkang-Punggol LRT. The former chalked up three major breakdowns in the first six months, against five for Sengkang-Punggol LRT.

National University of Singapore transport researcher Lee Der-Horng said: "It is clear that more must be done to overcome the system reliability challenge and regain passenger confidence."

He noted that while some indicators showed an improvement over 2015, last year's score "was not high to begin with".

Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan said in Parliament yesterday that "we are still quite far off Hong Kong MTR's performance of 360,000 train-km and Taipei Metro's 800,000 train-km".

"We have set ourselves a target of 400,000 train-km by 2018 and 800,000 train-km by 2020 for our MRT lines," he added. "Together with the operators, we have a comprehensive plan to reach this higher standard."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 10, 2016, with the headline 'Rail reliability down slightly in first half of the year'. Print Edition | Subscribe