Is SMRT implying that the noise level is a constraint on increasing train trips?

by: Leong Sze Hian/

I refer to media reports (“Increased frequency of train trips means higher noise level: SMRT”, Channel NewsAsia, Jul 29) that SMRT has added 1,600 train trips since 2008, which has resulted in a higher level of noise, with SMRT receiving complaints from residents in Jurong East and Eunos.

For example, the noise level at Bishan MRT station is around 80 to 85 decibels. This is higher than the National Environment Agency’s (NEA) stipulation of 67 decibels.

As Bishan MRT has been cited as an example, is it the highest noise level?

Since complaints were received from residents in Jurong and Eunos, shouldn’t the obvious question be what are the noise levels at these stations, instead of just citing Bishan?

So, what is SMRT saying or implying – that the noise level is a constraint on increasing train trips? What about the costs of running more trips? Why not also tell us the relationship between more train trips and higher costs?

Train noise less than in car?

In this connection, according to How-To’s Decibel (Loudness) Comparison Chart, the environmental noise for normal conversation (3-5′), telephone dial tone, city traffic (inside car), subway train at 200′, is 60-70, 80, 85 and 95 decibels, respectively.

The level at which sustained exposure may result in hearing loss is 90-95 decibels?

So, isn’t the NEA’s stipulation of 67 decibels kind of low, for MRT trains?

Is there any other country in the world which stipulates subway trains’ noise levels at only 67 decibels?

Increase fares means more trains?

Since SMRT said that the noise level is partly due to wear and tear of the train wheels and track, and that ensuring their wheels and tracks are well-maintained will help reduce noise levels, with some experts having recommended buying new trains or replacing the entire track, what is the Public Transport Council (PTC) or the Transport Ministry’s current service standards and benchmarks for the maintenance and replacement of trains, wheels, tracks, etc?

Since there are already service, maintenance and replacement standards in place, why is it cited by the PTC as a reason to raise fares – that otherwise the operators won’t have more buses and trains?

When was the last time that the NEA set or reviewed its noise level stipulation?

Having more trains to reduce congestion should be balanced against the NEA’s noise level stipulation. Otherwise, congestion may only get worse with an ever increasing population in Singapore.


A survey by the Institute of Service Excellence (ISES) at the Singapore Management University has indicated that customer satisfaction for public transport has gone up significantly (see HERE).


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