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More transparency needed on KPIs for rail maintenance, says Workers’ Party

The Workers' Party's (WP) spokesperson and NCMP Dennis Tan Lip Fong has called for clear Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) on the progress of maintenance and renewal of rail assets.

"Every year, there should be KPIs set on what are the maintenance and renewal work that are required for each of the MRT lines, and there should be a KPI so that the authority can actually monitor whether or not the maintenance work are done adequately and the renewal works are done punctually," said Mr Tan, adding that parts must be replaced in accordance with the recommendations of the manufacturers.

"The sleepers should have been replaced by 2012 but we understand that they are being replaced, and the replacement will only be completed by the end of 2016," said Mr Tan, highlighting how the maintenance of the rail system has fallen way behind its due date.

WP central executive council member, Gerald Giam, said that things like the number of breakdowns for 100,000km, are what the party refers to as output KPIs. Input KPIs, on the other hand, are measurements for things such as the number of engineers working on the rail system or measuring the percentage of parts which are in need of renewal.

"[These KPIs] give a forecast as to when something will break down, for example if the parts have not been renewed in time, then you can expect to have breakdowns because these parts have reached their end of life," said Mr Giam.

He also noted that if the government already has such KPIs in place, they have not been published, so the status of parts are unknown.

"The objective of all this is to provide some forecasting for breakdowns that might happen, rather than to look back on breakdowns," he said.

"Right now the situation that we are faced with is that sleepers are being replaced in the North-South line... On the East-West line the sleepers are still being replaced and they have decided that they will be shutting down the MRT a bit earlier so that they can accelerate the progress, but the sleepers are expected not to be completely replaced until the end of 2016, so that is clearly four years behind," Mr Giam said.

Mr Giam listed a further two examples: the signalling system and the third rail assembly which carries the power line, both of which have reached or are reaching their end of recommended service period.

The Committee of Inquiry for the December 2011 massive MRT breakdown ruled that SMRT’s work instructions did not incorporate the annual Third Rail Support Assemblies (TRSA) inspection that was specifically required in the original maintenance manual and no annual inspection of the TRSA had been carried out in years. The COI said that if these checks had been carried out, the incident could have been averted.

Mr Giam noted that the mentioned examples are just some of the critical parts that have been highlighted while there might be other parts which ought to be replaced.