SMRT to beef up its team of engineers and technicians

SINGAPORE - Transport operator SMRT said on Friday that it will accelerate the setting up of a new maintenance operations centre, which will provide swifter responses to rail incidents.

Experts stationed at the centre will be able to communicate directly with maintenance teams on the ground, and provide in-depth diagnostic advice to speed up service recovery.

The centre is expected to be ready in the coming year, SMRT said in a press briefing which was called in light of the recent spate of train disruptions.

Only one other metro has such a maintenance operations centre, SMRT added, while declining to say which one.

Along with the centre, SMRT said it is currently testing out the use of mobile tablets by its maintenance teams, which will allow real-time access to technical databases and instruction manuals.

To deal with minor delays and disruptions, SMRT said it also plans to equip its station staff with basic troubleshooting and maintenance skills.

Meanwhile, the rail operator will be looking to further beef up its team of engineers and technicians. It now has 288 engineers, an increase of 64 per cent over the past three years. SMRT will look to recruit another 39 per cent more by March 2018.

In December 2011, SMRT had 1,728 technicians but this has swelled by 21 per cent more to 2,098 currently. This number will grow further to around 2,600 in the next three years.

SMRT group chief executive Desmond Kuek said: "We are focusing relentlessly on building our engineering and technical capability, strengthening out maintenance and service recovery, as well as upholding the morale and competence of our people."

Since Feb 23 there have been five rail disruptions including two on March 3.