SINGAPORE: The Land Transport Authority (LTA) on Thursday (Jul 7) refuted a report by Hong Kong-based media outlet FactWire suggesting that the cracks found in 26 of the 35 trains delivered to SMRT in 2013 affected the structural integrity of the trains.
The Jul 5 FactWire report cited emails provided by Hong Kong “government sources” about the defective trains in Singapore, claiming that "thousands of brackets had been added to the relevant areas, as a temporary measure to ensure the safety integrity of the underframe sub-floor member to prevent the equipment from falling down onto the track”.
Responding to queries from Channel NewsAsia, LTA said the hairline cracks are “on the surface of the car-body bolster”, which is fixed to the train car-body. It added that the cracks did not affect the structural integrity of the train. "We did not add brackets at any time to the underframe," said LTA.
WHY SUBSEQUENT CONTRACTS WERE AWARDED TO THE SAME CONSORTIUM
The defective trains were purchased under the C151A contract, and the Kawasaki-Sifang consortium (KSF) - comprising Kawasaki Heavy Industries and CRRC Qingdao Sifang - has been awarded two additional contracts since then: C151B and C151C. The latter was awarded in 2015, two years after the defects were discovered, and involves a S$137 million deal for 12 new trains.
On these contracts, LTA said that in assessing the contractors, it looked at "the overall quality that the contractor can deliver.” LTA said: “We also considered that the contractor was able to quickly identify the cause of the defects, take responsibility and carry out the necessary action promptly to rectify the fault.”
In both subsequent contracts - C151B and C151C - for additional North-South and East-West Line (NSEWL) trains, LTA said KSF had the "highest quality score" among the other tenderers.
The quality score is based on different aspects such as technical proposals, project management and train manufacturer competency, LTA said. "Kawasaki also had a proven track record having provided the first set of NSEWL trains.”
LTA added that it has a "robust and comprehensive tender process with strict procedures that ensure (its) procurement systems adhere to the highest and most rigorous standards".
ALL ISSUES WILL BE RESOLVED "SATISFACTORILY": CONSORTIUM
In a separate media statement, the Kawasaki-Sifang consortium confirmed the information provided by LTA, and reiterated that the issues, such as the hairline cranks of the car-body bolster, batteries and draughtscreen, “do not affect the operational performance and safety of the C151A trains”.
The location of the car-body bolster. (Graphic: LTA)
The consortium also said it will resolve all issues “satisfactorily” as it is a “responsible contractor”.
It also refuted online reports of fake test data, saying that it “accords high level of integrity when carrying out testing and commissioning works.
“After delivering the trains to Singapore, KSF demonstrated function and performance of trains in testing and commissioning at site,” the consortium said in its media statement. “There are no ways to cover up any non-conformity to the specifications.”