Massive crowd going to Joo Koon / Photo: Steven Chua Her Leng's post on TATA SMRT Facebook

SMRT aims to have no more than one delay per month by 2020

Singapore Mass Rapid Transit (SMRT) held an annual review on Wednesday (28 March), saying that the corporation is aiming for no more than one delay per month by 2020, at least three times better than its performance today, describing this as a bold target, which only a handful of the world’s metros can match.

Chief executive Desmond Kuek stated that the company’s goal is to reduce any delay to less than five minutes, and in the worst, ensure that it does not last longer than 30 minutes, saying, “It is these major incidents, lasting longer than 30 minutes, that we must strenuously avoid.”

SMRT had nine such incidents in 2017, excluding those related to a project to change-out the signalling system, which determines how closely trains can travel to each other and if signalling faults were included, there were 13 such long delays on the North-south, East-west and Circle lines – lines operated by SMRT.

According to a chart provided by the newly-privatised operator, if delays of more than five minutes were included, signalling-related delays totalled more than 140 last year. The CEO said that incidents related to the resignalling project were temporal and were thus excluded in its reliability count.

SMRT chairman Seah Moon Ming responded to a question on when signalling-related delays would be included in the count, saying that they should be included from end-June, when the new signalling system is completely operational on both the North-south and East-west lines.

However, TOC notes that many of the delays that we report were not announced by the transport operator and therefore uncertain if those unannounced delays are taken into account. Not just delays caused by signalling fault but also those of train fault and etc.

Mr Seah said that the early closure and late opening (ECLO) of the two lines since late last year had provided SMRT nearly three times the engineering hours for maintenance, inspection and renewal works.

He also said that the ECLO would need to continue for at least the rest of this year, saying, “We cannot say forever. But if there’s a need, we’ll go for it.”

SMRT said the North-south line had clocked 447,000km between delays, while the East-west line posted 289,000km, and the Circle line 564,000km as at end-February this year.

“With the completion of key projects and stabilising of the new signalling system, we’ve seen positive results in rail reliability. While this is encouraging, there’s more we can do to drive reliability even higher,” Mr Kuek said, noting that the company now spends 60 per cent of fare revenue on maintenance, up from 50 per cent.

He added, “Going forward, we are gunning for zero safety breaches and zero delays of more than 30 minutes.”

Mr Seah then noted that the SMRT board has to “ensure that all SMRT assets are well maintained throughout their entire life cycles” to do so.