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WP reiterates concern over negotiations between LTA and SMRT over new rail financing system

The Workers' Party (WP) has called upon the government to introduce KPIs on the progress of maintenance and renewal of rail assets on an annual basis, and to seek transparency on negotiations between Land Transport Authority (LTA) and rail transport operator SMRT for the new rail financing system.

WP media chairman and NCMP Dennis Tan Lip Fong spoke to the media about concerns over the ongoing negotiations between LTA and SMRT on the rail financing model.

Mr Tan said that MRT breakdowns have not abated since the massive MRT breakdown on 7 July this year and the party is concerned that the frequency of MRT breakdown might become the norm in Singapore.

"The frequency of breakdown as well as the severity of breakdown at the moment is completely unacceptable," said Mr Tan.

Mr Tan pointed out that the late replacement or renewal of the aging rail assets is one of the reasons that resulted in the current situation and calls upon the government to introduce a proper rail asset renewal schedule in the new railway financing frameworks arrangement.

He added that the government must replace all expired parts or equipment after the period of service that the manufacturers have recommended as it is unacceptable for the MRT system to operate on expired parts and equipment at any time.

The party also called upon the government to come up with Input Key Performance Indexes (KPIs) on the progress of maintenance and renewal of rail assets on an annual basis. The party claims that if KPIs had been introduced earlier, some of the present problems such as the lack of rail engineers and the aging rail assets could have been detected before the breakdowns occurred.

The new rail financing framework was put in place in 2010 to achieve the objectives set out by the LTA as stated in the Land Transport Master Plan (LTMP).

Under the existing financing framework, rail operators own the operating assets of the system and are responsible for buying additional trains to meet ridership growth. But the new financing framework would have the government take ownership control of operating assets while operators such as SMRT and SBS pay a licence charge for the use of the operating assets.

Mr Tan said that WP has been calling on the government to increase ownership of assets in the public transport and is happy that the government is finally moving in this direction.

The party, however called upon the government to update the public on the status of the negotiations between LTA and SMRT on the new rail financing framework and that there should be a deadline set for the conclusion of these negotiations to avoid any delay to the replacement of any critical rail assets.