Government agencies and transport operators to collaborate on maintenance of public transport

Government agencies the Land Transport Authority (LTA), the Public Utilities Board (PUB) and public transport operations SBS Transit and SMRT Corporation signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) at the Joint Forum on Infrastructure Maintenance on Friday.

The MoU sets out areas of collaboration between the four entities: asset management strategies, maintenance programmes, maintenance expertise, and audit processes. Through these collaborations, engineers from all four organisations will be able share their knowledge, experience and best practices in their respective domains. They will also be able to learn from each other through platforms such as forums, joint courses and attachments.

Speaking at the forum, Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan said that the LTA must beef up its pool of engineers to take on operations and maintenance with an integrated approach, from design and construction right through to operations and maintenance.

“Our current model separates the designer and builder, LTA, from the maintainer and operator, SMRT and SBST. From an economist’s viewpoint, this allows for more competition in choosing the operator. From an engineer’s viewpoint, it is not so ideal from the life-cycle perspective. But it is not easy or desirable to change the model overnight,” Khaw said.

“This requires unwavering commitment from top-level management, from [the Ministry of Transport], LTA and the train operators. I am devoting part of my time to this effort, as it is critical to raising rail reliability,” he added.

Earlier this week on Wednesday, Khaw indicated that 99 new trains will be added to Singapore’s rail network to help improve the reliability of the MRT system. The trains will cost more than $1 billion, which he described as a “worthy investment”. He did not disclose whether it would be the state or the transport operators paying for these new trains.

The new trains will be added between now and 2019, with 57 of the trains going to the North-South and East-West Lines, 24 to the Circle Line and 18 to the North-East Line.