Capacity, reliability key in handling peak-hour train demand

Reducing the duration between trains does not necessarily add strain to our MRT system if the system were to operate with sufficient capacity and reliability (Stagger office hours to alleviate peak travel demand, by Mr Seah Yam Meng; Oct 2).

Most office working hours start at 7.30, 8, 8.30 or 9 in the morning. The four half-hour intervals offer ample time to ease traffic if public transport systems are adequate.

It was suggested, in the 1990s, to stagger office hours to solve the conundrum. There was not much success.

It is not difficult to tell why the situation did not improve.

In 1990, the population density was 4,814 people per sq km, compared to 7,797 last year.

Our land area hasn't changed, which indicates a massive population increase.

Our infrastructure and public transport system seem unable to cope with such a huge increase.

We can use Hong Kong's MTR as a good reference when we plan for population explosion problems, since that system was set up much earlier than our MRT.

During peak hours in Hong Kong, eight-car trains run at two-minute intervals on one line, and 12-car trains run at 21/2-minute intervals on another line. One eight-car train can carry 75,000 passengers per hour, while a 12-car train ferries 86,000 passengers.

With good reliability, such capacity can handle Singapore's peak-hour demand without problems.

The key to handling peak-hour demand is planning capacity and reliability. This is the same in every facility, whether it be stadiums, cinemas, hawker centres, hospitals or public transport systems.

Paul Chan Poh Hoi

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 04, 2017, with the headline 'Capacity, reliability key in handling peak-hour train demand'. Print Edition | Subscribe