SINGAPORE: A new 2020 rail reliability target was set by Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan on Thursday (Jul 27).
Speaking at the Fourth Joint Forum on Infrastructure Maintenance, Mr Khaw announced that he wants trains to travel 1 million train-kilometres before there is a delay of more than five minutes, a measurement known as the Mean Kilometres Between Failure (MKBF).
The original target was 800,000 train-kilometres, which was set last year, benchmarked against the Taipei Metro, Mr Khaw said, adding that the Taipei company had "upped the game" and achieved 1,000,000 train-kilometres in 2016, hence the raised target.
Mr Khaw presented data that showed Singapore’s MRT system has improved its performance in the first half of this year.
According to the minister, trains travelled an average of 393,000 train-kilometres before a delay of more than five minutes in the first half of this year. That is about three times more than 2015 figures, when trains travelled an average of 133,000 train-kilometres between delays.
The figure is also better than this year’s target of 300,000 train-kilometres.
ALL TRAIN LINES MADE IMPROVEMENTS
Mr Khaw pointed out that all five MRT train lines made improvements. The North-East Line travelled 978,000 train-kilometres, while the Downtown Line and Circle Line both clocked 518,000 train-kilometres between delays.
The older North-South and East-West Lines travelled 345,000 and 282,000 train-kilometres, respectively, before a delay occurred.
The number of major delays that exceeded 30 minutes has also gone down, from 10 in the first half of 2016, to three in the first half of this year, Mr Khaw said.
He said that the outcome is “satisfactory”, but that it is still not in the “steady state we are hoping for”.
“But versus what we (had) inherited two years ago, I think this may be a C-plus. Next year, we should go for B. The following year, certainly before election, must be (an) A,” he said.
However, the data is preliminary and excludes the delays due to re-signalling works on the North-South Line.
Still, Mr Khaw says that the re-signalling project has been smoother than “what we had feared”, despite the “several delays and congestion (that) did emerge, as expected”.
He noted one exception – the major disruption that happened during the evening peak hour on Jun 28. But he said that the operators have learnt from it, and that the error will not happen again.
He expects the re-signalling system on the North-South Line – the only line where such tests are being conducted - to stabilise by the end of this year, and he hopes that efforts to do the same upgrades on the East-West Line can begin by December this year.
KHAW TAKES ISSUE WITH MEDIA COVERAGE ON RE-SIGNALLING PROJECT
During his speech to rail workers and engineers, the Transport Minister apparently went off-script and criticised media coverage of the recent spate of train service delays and disruptions due to the re-signalling project.
"I think they have magnified the problem unfairly," he said. "Even our main(stream) media have turned tabloid."
Mr Khaw said coverage on the project has seen "frightening figures, headlines". "But I think they were being unfair to the teams ... working their guts out on this re-signalling project."
"They think it is so easy ... just like holding a pen and writing a few articles, and you get the signalling done. I wish it was so simple," he added. "If it was so simple, they don’t need us. We can ask the reporters to run the train system."