SMRT rail staff stand out in new uniforms

The brighter shade of red makes staff more visible. The changes - which come after a year of discussions with staff and the National Transport Workers Union - were also designed for comfort and functionality. The last uniform revamp was in 2010.
The brighter shade of red makes staff more visible. The changes - which come after a year of discussions with staff and the National Transport Workers Union - were also designed for comfort and functionality. The last uniform revamp was in 2010.PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN

Commuters travelling on one of SMRT's four rail lines next week may find it easier to spot a staff member from Monday.

A total of 5,000 SMRT Trains employees - including station staff, train captains, technicians and maintenance crew - will wear new uniforms in a brighter shade of red to make them more visible to commuters.

This is the fourth iteration of the firm's uniform since it began operations in 1987. The last uniform revamp was in 2010.

The changes - which come after a year of discussions with staff and the National Transport Workers Union - were also designed for comfort and functionality.

The train drivers' uniforms, for example, no longer include ties and shirts need not be tucked into trousers.

SMRT did not disclose the cost of the revamp. The transport operator will also introduce new uniforms for its front-line and support staff in its buses division by the middle of this year.

The new attire comes amid a slew of changes at SMRT following high-profile incidents such as the tunnel flooding in October.

Last Saturday, the rail operator announced that it was raising starting salaries and offering older workers five-year re-employment contracts, as part of a bid to both attract and retain staff.

On Tuesday, SMRT announced that it had introduced the Japanese concept of kaizen at the Tuas depot and City Hall MRT station in January, with plans to expand its use.

Practiced by firms such as Toyota, kaizen - which means "continuous improvement" - empowers staff to suggest and make small improvements in their areas of work.

Changes such as new uniforms can help SMRT present a new face to the public, said PRecious Communications managing director Lars Voedisch. But there has to be substance behind a new image, he said.

Singapore Polytechnic senior lecturer in marketing and retail Amos Tan said trust and reliability are what people expect from the rail operator. "The question is, can SMRT deliver, regardless of their branding?" he said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 03, 2018, with the headline 'SMRT rail staff stand out in new uniforms'. Print Edition | Subscribe