DOWNTOWN MRT LINE CHIEF RETIRES EARLY FOR “PERSONAL REASONS”

It was announced last month that the chief executive of SBS Transit’s Downtown Line division, Mr Wong Wai Keong, left the company on 31 Mar.

SBS Transit, a subsidiary of ComfortDelGro Corp, said that Mr Wong, 58, had opted for “early retirement for personal reasons”. ST speculated that it could be because he had recently become a grandfather.

Mr Wong, a chartered engineer, joined SBS Transit in 2005, after having spent 16 years with the Land Transport Authority and one of its predecessors, MRT Corp.

Taking over Mr Wong is a British national, Simon Lane, who is only 4 years younger than Mr Wong.

Mr Lane graduated from University College Swansea and started his career as an operations management trainee with British Railways in 1982. He later moved to Australia, becoming CEO of the State Rail Authority in New South Wales before joining SBS Transit in 2001.

He was the chief operating officer of SBS Transit’s rail business from 2001 to 2005. He then left to set up his own rail consultancy in Perth, Australia. He has now made a comeback to SBS Transit.

Following is his resume found on LinkedIn [Link]:

  • December 1997 – November 2000: State Rail Authority NSW, CEO
  • August 2001 – December 2005: SBS Transit Ltd, COO (Rail) – “Worked with a super talented team to develop an operations and maintenance capability for two start-ups. The fully automated North East Line and the SengkangPunggol LRT. Both start ups went v well and we made a profit from Q3 2005.”
  • April 2010 – September 2011: MTM Melbourne, COO – Interim Management Role
  • January 2006 – Present: Rail Advisory Services Pty Ltd, Owner

Problematic Downtown Line

Like the other MRT lines operated by SMRT, the Downtown Line operated by SBS Transit is also somewhat problematic from time to time.

The first stage of the Downtown Line has been experiencing a spate of breakdowns since it opened in December 2013. In fact, it broke down on opening day on Dec 22, and then again on the 5th day in 2013.

According to LTA statistics, the 4.3km, six-stop line had 3.43 delays of more than five minutes each for every 100,000km operated last year – nearly three times as many as the overall MRT network.

The LTA said new MRT lines “typically take about six to nine months to stabilise”.

Trains for the Downtown Line are made in China.

Some of the recorded train disruptions in Downtown Line include:

[2013]

22 Dec – DTL down on opening day:

27 Dec – DTL down on 5th day:

[2014]

7 Feb – DTL:

7 Mar – DTL:

It’s not known if Mr Wong’s decision to retire early has to do with the train disruptions in the last 2 years.

What do you think?

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