Rail operators SMRT and SBS Transit stand to face much heftier fines for train disruptions in future, after Parliament passed a Bill on Monday to raise the maximum penalty to 10 per cent of the annual fare revenue of a rail line.
That could be many times higher than the current cap of $1 million for each incident.
SMRT was hit with the maximum $2 million for two major disruptions on the North South Line on Dec 15 and 17 in 2011 that affected more than 220,000 commuters in total.
Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew said the new penalty guidelines will better reflect the severity of incidents and their impact on commuters, as well as enhance their deterrent effect.
He said: "Overall, any incident involving multiple breaches and service disruption will warrant a higher overall financial penalty than today."
The Bill also granted the Land Transport Authority (LTA) power to ask the public transport operators to beef up their board of directors.
Mr Lui said this is to ensure the boards "comprise the appropriate and relevant range of expertise and experience, including engineering background, needed to fulfil their primary role as public rail transport operators".
He noted that this provision, while intrusive, will help ensure the board takes a longer term view of its operations.
The Bill also allows the LTA to further develop MRT stations with facilities such as bicycle racks, ramps and lifts even if the State land is not adjoining road reserves.
Private land owners who refuse to surrender their land for rail construction works even after a two-month notice period has been given, can now be fined up to $1,000.