SMRT’s whopping S$900M plan to prevent future breakdowns

~ By Kumaran Pillai ~

SMRT will be spending to the tune of S$900M to rectify faults on their North-South and East-West lines which will be co-funded by the Land Transport Authority. This amount exceeds more than what SMRT has spent on repairs and maintenance in the last decade.

At a press conference held yesterday, SMRT interim chief executive officer Tan Ek Kia announced his plans and gave details of how they plan to replace several aging infrastructural and system parts, which include the replacement of metal claws, wooden rail sleepers, train propulsion system and train pneumatic system.

“As the system ages, our maintenance regime needs to adapt from one that focuses on repair and overhaul, to one which also includes replacement and renewal,” Tan said.

In the last two weeks, there were five breakdowns and one major one at the Circle line last week. However, the improvements to the system will not include the circle line tracks. The breakdowns with the Circle line were apparently due to “teething problems” and they were “unanticipated” according to a SMRT spokesperson.

Some observers see this as a reactionary approach to the breakdowns that took place over the last two weeks. Minister Lui Tuck Yew also weighed in on the breakdowns last week and said that a “business-as-usual approach was not sufficient.”

Mr Tan declined to comment on whether additional spending would affect the company’s profitability. He said that profitability depends on, apart from other things, the ridership over a period of time.

"On behalf of all of us at SMRT, I want to apologise to our customers for the disruptions in the past weeks. We hear your concerns, and we acknowledge we must improve our handling of these events," Tan said.