Government pumps S$100 million to help train rail workers

Government pumps S$100 million to help train rail workers

The Government announced a S$100 million Rail Manpower Development Package (RMDP) on Saturday (Nov 9), with the aim of expanding Singapore's rail workforce and preparing workers to "run an expanded and more complex rail system". Jeraldine Yap reports.

SINGAPORE: The Government announced a S$100 million Rail Manpower Development Package (RMDP) on Saturday (Nov 9), with the aim of expanding Singapore's rail workforce and preparing workers to "run an expanded and more complex rail system". 

Unveiled by Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan, the initiative was jointly developed with Public Transport Operators (PTOs) and the National Transport Workers' Union (NTWU). 

According to a news release, the package will enhance existing training programmes offered by the PTOs, as well as programmes supported by Workforce Singapore and SkillsFuture Singapore. 

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These include training 3,000 rail workers in "future-relevant" technologies and skillsets such as data analytics, as well as the establishment of the SGRail industry scholarships for programmes at ITE and Institutes of Higher Learning, which will benefit around 400 students and workers. 

The package will also go towards investing in training equipment like simulators. 

The RMDP comes amid planned expansion of Singapore's rail network, with three new rail lines - the Thomson-East Coast Line, Jurong Region Line and Cross Island Line - set to increase the length of the network by about 130km in 2030. 

READ: First 3 stations on Thomson-East Coast Line to open by end-January

Meanwhile, Singapore will continue to upgrade aging rail assets across existing lines to "sustain rail reliability, and adopt new operations and maintenance technologies such as remote condition sensors and augmented reality to achieve greater cost efficiencies". 

SMRT Trains posted a net loss of S$155.3 million for the Financial Year 2019 - nearly double that of the previous year's S$86 million loss - mainly due to an increase in operating expenses, particularly repairs and maintenance costs. 

On Saturday, NTWU executive secretary Melvin Yong said in a Facebook post that he was "heartened" by the boost from the Government, after discussions showed that rail operators faced "significant challenge of balancing heavy investments in maintenance with manpower training". 

Mr Yong said the RMDP will help to "complement and accelerate" concurrent efforts between the union and the two rail operators and that with the injection, they can "train more, train faster and train better". 

Source: CNA/hs

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