The Workers’ Party is deeply worried over the 3.5 hour disruption of train services along the entire stretch of both the North-South and East-West MRT lines on 7 July 2015. The severe inconvenience caused to an estimated quarter-of-a-million commuters during the evening rush hour makes this the most serious MRT disruption in Singapore’s history.
The latest breakdown comes on the heels of repeated assurances by both SMRT and the authorities about the improved reliability of our transport system. Yet, the number of significant train delays reached an all-time high of 12 in 2014 and stands at 8 in 2015. This is despite billions of dollars of government funds being pumped into improving the existing MRT infrastructure since 2011.
Even as the LTA and SMRT work together with their engineers and external consultants to identify the precise cause of the breakdown, we find it particularly troubling that two of our country’s main rail lines can be fully disrupted by what appears to be an electrical fault. This raises questions about our transport system’s resilience, particularly as such a system-wide failure could have repercussions on our nation’s economic and national security interests.
We call on the authorities to enforce a more rigorous maintenance regime on the rail network, with effective measures in place to ensure that commuters’ interests take precedence over corporate profits. For key performance indicators (KPIs) such as the number of unscheduled train withdrawals per 100,000 train kilometres and the number of service delays exceeding 30 minutes, concrete targets must be set and disclosed to the public.
In the meantime, engineering and front-line staff should also be provided with proper support by their employers to ensure that they are equipped to handle any similarly challenging situations in the future. Their efforts and tireless work – many working through the night – should be recognised, and we would like to express our appreciation for their hard work.
THE WORKERS’ PARTY
9 July 2015