Looking forward to 2017

2016: Notable people and events

(From left) SMRT chief executive officer Desmond Kuek, former LTA chief Chew Men Leong and PTC chairman Richard Magnus.
SMRT chief executive officer Desmond Kuek (above), former LTA chief Chew Men Leong and PTC chairman Richard Magnus.
(From left) SMRT chief executive officer Desmond Kuek, former LTA chief Chew Men Leong and PTC chairman Richard Magnus.
SMRT chief executive officer Desmond Kuek, former LTA chief Chew Men Leong (above) and PTC chairman Richard Magnus.
(From left) SMRT chief executive officer Desmond Kuek, former LTA chief Chew Men Leong and PTC chairman Richard Magnus.
SMRT chief executive officer Desmond Kuek, former LTA chief Chew Men Leong and PTC chairman Richard Magnus (above).

SMRT CEO Desmond Kuek

Mr Kuek made the news in June when SMRT's annual report stated that his pay for the previous financial year was $1.87 million - almost 20 per cent less than in the year before. Behind the scenes, the former general negotiated with the Government for a more sustainable financing framework and the sale of its rail assets.

Former LTA chief Chew Men Leong

Mr Chew's shock resignation from the Land Transport Authority in August - after barely two years on the job - made headlines. He had overseen the opening of Downtown Line 2, the roll-out of the Thomson-East Coast Line project, and transition to the new rail financing framework. The former rear-admiral is now with ST Marine as deputy president and president of defence business.

PTC chairman Richard Magnus

Mr Magnus, who assumed the chair at the Public Transport Council in 2014, rolled out significant changes this year - no more premium pricing for underground lines, and all fares to be based purely on distance - which means commuters will be charged based on the shortest route, not the fastest travel path. This brings equity and clarity to users, and gives true meaning to distance fare, which was introduced in principle six years ago.

Deaths on the rail track

On March 22, workers Nasrulhudin Najumudin, 26, and Muhammad Asyraf Ahmad Buhari, 24, were killed by an MRT train while tending to a track fault near Pasir Ris station. The tragedy uncovered safety and procedural breaches. Two employees - train driver Rahmat Mohd and assistant engineer Lim Say Heng - have since been fired. SMRT Trains, its director of control operations Teo Wee Kiat, and Lim have been charged in court for failing to ensure the safety of employees.

Signal mystery solved

A mysterious signalling interference tripped up train services on the Circle Line from Aug 28 to Sept 2, and again from Nov 2 to 6. Neither SMRT, LTA nor train supplier Alstom could nail down what was causing trains to lose communication intermittently, triggering their emergency braking. Engineers from external agencies, including the Defence Science and Technology Agency, tracked the cause to a new train with faulty signalling hardware. The rogue train was removed from service and things returned to normal.

Christopher Tan

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 29, 2016, with the headline 2016: Notable people and events. Subscribe