WP proposes 3 ways to improve MRT

SMRT staff carrying out a track replacement exercise after a rail crack occurred.
SMRT staff carrying out a track replacement exercise after a rail crack occurred. PHOTO: SMRT

SINGAPORE - The Workers' Party (WP) on Sunday proposed three ways to improve the rail system, following Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan's recent call for the Land Transport Authority (LTA) to beef up its engineering team.

WP Non-Constituency Member of Parliament (NCMP) Dennis Tan and former NCMP Gerald Giam said the Government should ensure ageing rail assets are replaced on time, publish information about these assets, and set a deadline for negotiations on a new rail financing framework to be finalised.

The proposals come a week after Mr Khaw asked the LTA to be ready to take over the operation and maintenance of the rail network, should the Government decide to restructure the rail industry.

Speaking at a community event in Serangoon, Mr Tan said rail parts and equipment should be replaced by the manufacturers' recommended expiry date.

"It is unacceptable for the MRT to operate at any time with equipment that has been expired," he said pointing to rail operator SMRT having used its timber sleepers past the recommended number of year.

The timbre sleepers - used to hold the tracks in place - last between 15 and 25 years and should have been replaced by 2002 or 2012. But replacement works only began in November 2012.

The party also wants information related to the maintenance of rail assets to be to be monitored and published yearly.

Currently, only key performance indicators like the number of breakdowns per 100,000 kilometres are released, said Mr Giam.

He added: "The objective is to provide some sort of forecasting, rather than wait for breakdowns to happen, (then) looking back to find a reason."

Its third suggestion is for the Government to set a deadline for the LTA and SMRT to conclude negotiations on a new rail financing framework, which would see the Government assume ownership of all operating assets.

Mr Tan called on the Government to provide updates on the talks, which began over two years ago, saying a deadline was necessary to avoid delays in replacing critical rail assets.