Khaw calls for drill to test rail contingency plans

An SMRT train passes near Ang Mo Kio MRT station.
An SMRT train passes near Ang Mo Kio MRT station.ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan has directed the Land Transport Authority (LTA) to conduct a joint exercise with rail operators SMRT and SBS Transit this month, to test the enhanced contingency plans put in place following the unprecedented disruption on July 7 that crippled two rail lines.

He will be present to observe the exercise.

In his latest blog post yesterday, Mr Khaw stressed the need for both operators to walk through specific contingency plans related to every MRT station, and added that the top management should be present at such exercises.

"Otherwise, the staff may carry them out half-heartedly, just to put a tick in the check boxes," he said.

Mr Khaw noted that it was important to recover service speedily and minimise inconvenience to commuters in the event of another major train disruption.

"There must therefore be comprehensive contingency plans for breakdowns. More importantly, there must be actual and regular walk-throughs and 'live rehearsals'," he said.

"This will ensure smoother execution of such plans when disruptions happen."

He also repeated his previous assertion that "low crime does not mean no crime", pointing out that even the best in class - the Hong Kong Mass Transit Railway (MTR) - experiences an average of one major disruption per month.

In a blog post last Friday, Mr Khaw had cited the MTR as a benchmark for rail reliability, and stressed the need to ramp up investment in rail maintenance as well as recruit more skilled workers.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 13, 2015, with the headline 'Khaw calls for drill to test rail contingency plans'. Subscribe