MTR Corp managing director Kam Chak-pui announced on July 13 that the corporation will withstand the HK$6 billion contract (SGD$1 billion) it made last year with CSR Qingdao Sifang Co Ltd., a company which built defected trains for Singapore, for 93 urban trains.
These trains, which have been in service for 36 years, will be replacing the old ones which were manufactured by Birmingham-based Metro Cammell. The trains are due to be delivered between 2018 and 2023.
The trains will be equipped with a new dynamic route map, new signalling system, and double branch handrails for standing passengers.
There were concerns regarding the safety of the China-made locomotives.
“We fully understand public concern on the need to ensure the quality of trains,” said MTRC.
MTRC added that there will be staffs stationed full-time at the factory during the manufacturing and assembly process to assure that the quality of the trains meet the safety standard. Rigorous testing will also be conducted and the trains must be certified by the Electrical and Mechanical Services Department before they can start to service.
Mr Kam underlined the fact that the design of the trains are completely different from those in Singapore. “The trains we ordered are made of stainless steel. We carried out metallurgical analysis of the materials for the trains we purchased to ensure that the materials used are in line with international standards,” he said.
“As we understand it, the Singaporean problem was caused by a batch of defective aluminium alloy trains, and it is a batch problem rather than a systematic problem,” he added.
Back in 2014, an email sent to the bureau to warn it about the defective trains found in Singapore’s SMRT trains. Yet the contract was still ongoing.
MTR Corporations’s 93 urban trains cost HK$6 billion, averaging HK$8 million (SGD$1.38 million) per train car. Former Kowloon-Canton Railway Corporation acting chief executive officer Samuel Lai Man-hay said, “The price for trains is very cheap. In my recollection of purchasing trains, each train car cost at least over HK$10 million (SGD$1.73 million).”
The Transport Minister of Singapore, Khaw Boon Wan, said that the cracks were a routine matter that had been “mis-spun into a controversy”. Mr Khaw said that the news might be the attempt to rise the anti-China political agenda. “We are caught in a crossfire and there are factions in Hong Kong who wanted to cause some difficulties for mainland China,” he said. “I have no inside information on whether that is true or not, but it’s possible.”