SMRT is an accident waiting to happen.

Due to inadequate/improper maintenance and a management unfamiliar with running public transportation, commuters have been forced to accept excuses after excuses for major disruptions. Will all these end only after a major accident has happened?

SMRT has blamed “train fault”, “signaling fault”, etc and now, it’s “a fault on the train’s antenna”. What’s next? Doesn’t all these boil down to the faulty brains of its management? High time to take a collective bow but no need to commit hara kiri; just pack up and stop leeching on taxpayers and commuters.

In the latest incident involving an LRT train, Jacqueline Bong had highlighted the danger of an out-of-control train: “the speed of the train is really fast”. LRT trains are not designed to negotiate almost-90 degree bends at high speed and there was a possibility of derailment. In a 2013 incident involving an out of control SMRT bus which was also traveling “really fast”, it flipped and killed Sasikumar Gunasakaran, a 19-year old passenger.

In his non reply, SMRT’s Patrick Nathan, another former army officer, beat around a very big bush to educate commuters on the function of a train’s antenna and SMRT’s protocols. Again, Patrick has applied a typical PAP tactic of confusing the issue of accountability with tons of technical information.

What’s the point of having protocols which look good on paper but in a real life situation, the system is as dysfunctional as the embarrassing performance of our SPF during the Little India riot?

Nathan: “We have confirmed that the train did not exceed 55 km per hour during this incident”. Has he tried negotiating an almost 90-degree turn at 54 km/hour ?

Nathan: “Commuters may wish to know that BPLRT trains operate at a speed range of 30 – 55 km per hour depending on the gradient and turn of each section of the BPLRT network.” Hello, you sure or not? The train already out of control still manage to control its speed meh?

Nathan: “Our BPLRT Operations Control Centre (OCC) received separate alerts from commuters through the station intercom, the train’s emergency phone and through the OCC hotline. When our OCC responded to the call from the station intercom, the call from the train’s emergency phone was put on queue. Concurrently, our OCC also received a call from a commuter’s mobile phone. When we subsequently responded to the call from the train’s emergency phone, we did not receive a response.”

It appears SMRT does not have sufficient control room staff and is unlikely to be able to cope in an emergency. Is there only one person working in the control room?

If SMRT had been able to receive the call, the control room could have “executed the manual override to bring the train under control” earlier. The train should have been stopped at the next station but had skipped another 2..

So what’s the lesson learnt? Cannot stinge on hiring?

Nathan is a Comms guy and he should not skirt Jaqueline’s questions with half-baked answers. Stop telling half-truths and just come straight to the point – what was the real underlying cause/causes?

How could a passenger who had required IMMEDIATE assistance be rendered none till minutes later? Was the control room understaffed or sleeping on the job? Do we need to send the train’s antenna or the entire control system back to its US manufacturer?

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