I was flabbergasted when I read the article by Straits Times, “Train disruptions caused by track circuit failures, unrelated to sleeper replacement: SMRT”.
From a commuter’s perspective – what does it matter to us – whether the delays since the year started – were due to “faulty track circuits” – and not due to “the replacement of sleepers” – or for that matter whether it was due to reason x, y or z?
What may irk commuters may be that there seem to be more frequent and longer breakdowns.
However, this is not the first time that I am reading media articles about train delays that arguably, don’t make much sense, or arguably any sense.
Channel News Asia – Overall rail reliability improved in first nine months of 2015
For example, according to the article by Channel NewsAsia on 11 Dec, 2015, there were seven delays that stretched more than 30 minutes between January and September 2015, compared to 10 in 2014.
It further noted that the numbers in 2015 have not included disruptions on the North East Line in October and the North South Line in November, both delays lasted about two hours.
How did the LTA or the media come to the conclusion that “Overall rail reliability seems to have improved in the first three quarters of this year (2015) compared to 2014, based on latest statistics from the Land Transport Authority (LTA) released on Friday (11 Dec, 2015)”?
With 9 major disruptions so far this year (2015) – how do we know whether there may be any more disruptions for the rest of the 20 days of this month? If we have just one more disruption – it would equal the 10 last year (2014).
Today Online – Number of major MRT delays hits four-year high
According to the article by Today Online on 19 Dec, 2014, it stated “the number of major train service delays this year (2015) for the entire MRT network has hit a new high, with the dozen incidents in the first nine months of the year (2014) already outstripping the previous high of 11 that were recorded in 2011”.
So, how did 12 disruptions in the first nine months of 2014 become 10 for the whole year of 2014?
Is it because some of the disruptions are now no longer counted under the new definition of “delays caused by external factors will now be excluded. This refers to factors beyond the control of operators or authorities, such as the actions of passengers”?
As to “Prof Lee said this shows work to improve rail reliability has been effective and the overall system looks like its stabilising. But he noted one area that may be missing in the numbers – the severity of breakdowns.
For instance – Singapore saw its worst disruption in July this year (2015), when the North South and East West lines were down for more than three hours, affecting more than 250,000 commuters.
“Using the new methodology (on) this kind of large scale breakdown, the magnitude would not be reflected” – it would appear that if we simply add up the total time of all the major disruptions – there may been no improvement.
Perhaps the final nail in the coffin may be that “The number of delays lasting more than 30 minutes on the LRT has already gone up from four in 2014 to 11 in the first three quarters of 2015”.”
Straits Times – “MRT network performance up 30 per cent in 2016 from 2015”
The article from Straits Times on 12 Jan, 2015 states that “MRT trains generally travelled longer distances before encountering delays last year, compared to the year before, going by latest data from the Government showing improved train network performance.”
“Last year, trains clocked 174,000 train-km travelled between delays of more than five minutes, a 30 per cent increase from 133,000 train-km in 2015.”
Since the best performing MRT train line was the Downtown Line, which achieved 260,000 train-km between delays of more than five minutes last year, up from 45,000 train-km the previous year, so to what extent did the additional track, stations and trains of the new downtown line stage 2 extension which started on 27 December 2015 – contribute to the improvement?
Arguably, what commuters may be more irked by – may not be how many km were travelled between (before the next delay) delays of more than five minutes, but rather how many delays of more than five minutes there were and whether these have increased.
What is perhaps even more important from the perspective of commuters may be how many delays there were of more than 10, 15, 30 minutes, one hour, etc – and whether these have increased?
As an analogy – it may be akin to telling you that you walked longer before you got hit by the next accident, but without telling you how serious the accidents were, or whether the number of accidents has increased?