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Workers’ Party to file questions on defective China manufactured trains in Parliament

Members of Parliament from the Workers Party have filed parliamentary questions on the defective China-manufactured trains that were purchased in May 2009 and "secretively" returned to the manufacturer since July 2014.

In its Facebook posting, the party noted that many Singaporeans have been surprised at the revelation of defects in some of the trains used by the MRT, leading to 26 of these trains being shipped to China for repair or replacement.

It also said that major issues affecting Singapore's public transport system should be discussed publicly.

In total, 17 questions will be asked by the MPs.

Questions include; Why was the information of the defects not released to the public prior to the news having been broadcast by a foreign news outlet and whether the Ministry of Transport and LTA were aware of the problems with the MRT trains delivered in 2013 from Kawasaki Heavy Industries and CSR Sifang under a previous contract before placing new orders with the same consortium for more trains in 2014 and 2015.

Earlier this week, FactWire News Agency, a watchdog news organization released an exclusive report on 35 defective train carriages belonging to local train operator, SMRT Trains Ltd (SMRT) were being secretly shipped back to mainland China for replacement and repair by manufacturer CSR Sifang Locomotive & Rolling Stock Company Ltd (CSR Sifang) after being tipped off by a mainland source in the railway industry.

In response to queries by the media on FaceWire's report, LTA and SMRT confirmed that 26 trains had hairline cracks on the surface of the car-body bolster found on them. The trains were said to be separately shipped back to China for car-body shell to be replaced since July 2014.

When TOC wrote to LTA to ask for the exact numbers of trains that were being shipped back, LTA pointed TOC to the press releases that had no mention of how many trains in total were being sent back, merely highlighting the number of trains, which is 26 had defects found on them.

Below are the parliamentary questions by members of parliament from the Worker’s Party that have been filed to be answered by the Minister of Transport.

MP for Aljunied Pritam Singh: To ask the Minister for Transport (a) what are the total number of MRT trains deployed for operations; (b) what percentage of these trains are not embarking passengers due to depot-level train repairs through to 2019 affecting the trains supplied by CSR Sifang; (c) in what way has this episode affected the Ministry's plans to improve the reliability of the MRT system.

MP for Aljunied Muhamad Faisal Abdul Manap: To ask the Minister for Transport whether members of the PTC, Board members of SMRT and the LTA and the management of Temasek Holdings were aware of both (a) the faults being discovered on trains supplied to the LTA by Kawasaki Heavy Industries and CSR Sifang in 2013; and (b) the subsequent train recall exercise.

NCMP Dennis Tan Lip Fong 陈立峰: To ask the Minister for Transport (a) was the Ministry/LTA aware of the problems with the MRT trains delivered in 2013 from Kawasaki Heavy Industries and CSR Sifang under a previous contract before placing new orders with the same consortium for more trains in 2014 and 2015; (b) if so, why were further contracts for additional trains extended to the same consortium; (c) did the Ministry/LTA evaluate alternative suppliers before placing the new orders in 2014 and 2015; (d) were any changes made to the new contracts with the consortium in 2014 and/or 2015 or any extraordinary QC measures put in place to ensure that the same problems would not recur; and (e) has the Ministry/LTA required the supplier to provide mitigating solutions or compensation for the operational set-back.

NCMP Daniel Goh 吴佩松: To ask the Minister for Transport, with regards to the 26 defective MRT trains, (a) whether the defects being not “safety-critical” meant that they pose zero safety risks for commuters, (b) why is it most effective for the car-bodies to be entirely replaced when cracks were found only on the bolsters, (c) what the risks are for cracks to happen on other components of the car-body, (d) whether the monthly safety assessment is focused only on the found defects or conducted for the entire train.

NCMP Leon Perera: To ask the Minister for Transport (a) whether current guidelines require information about the defects noted in/after 2013 and the subsequent train recall exercise initiated for 26 out of the 35 trains delivered to the LTA by Kawasaki Heavy Industries and CSR Sifang in 2013 to be made public; (b) if so, why was this information not released to the public prior to the news having been broadcast by a foreign news outlet; and (c) if not, will these guidelines be reviewed?