We thank Mr Martin Lee Ming Han for his feedback (Review need for staff on board driverless trains, Dec 31, 2019).
We agree that technology can be harnessed to improve efficiency. To this end, LTA has been actively leveraging technology for railway condition monitoring and asset maintenance.
For example, sensors are being installed for the North-South and East-West lines to detect cable insulation failures early.
LTA has also introduced a Rail Enterprise Asset Management System that leverages big data to enable predictive maintenance. These improvements help to improve reliability and to manage costs. Still, some manpower is needed for effective operations.
In this regard, the rail operators have deployed staff to carry out rapid troubleshooting of faults on site. This enables faster service recovery, minimising delays and inconvenience to commuters. That is also why more of such staff are deployed during peak periods, when trains are at their busiest and a single train delay can have a wide-reaching impact on commuters.
Should the need arise, these staff are also trained to manually drive trains to station platforms so that commuters can disembark safely.
Beyond troubleshooting, these staff patrol the trains for security threats and can render assistance to commuters in need.
On Mr Lee's suggestion to explore sources of non-fare revenue to manage the costs, LTA has outsourced the advertising and retail businesses for the upcoming Thomson-East Coast Line in August last year. This arrangement is expected to bring in over $164 million in concession fees over 16 years. Given the strong market interest, we are considering extending it to other rail lines, buses, bus interchanges, and road and pedestrian infrastructure.
These efforts will help to increase non-fare revenue, and contribute to the financial sustainability of our public transport system.
Chua Chong Kheng
Deputy Chief Executive
Infrastructure and Development
Land Transport Authority