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Singapore should take a leaf from Taiwan's book to boost rail reliability, says MOT


Have operators been complacent?

Taiwanese rail operators used to travel to Singapore to learn about the city's efficient rail lines. Now, it's the other way around: Singaporean rail engineers have been told by the Ministry of Transport (MOT) to emulate their Taiwanese peers, who boast one of the most efficient urban rail systems in the world.

Speaking at the Second Joint Forum on Infrastructure Maintenance, transport minister Khaw Boon Wan noted that Singapore is studying the Taipei Metro (TRTC) closely. TRTC clocked in 800,000 MKBF—which refers to the mean distance in train-km between delays exceeding 5 minutes—in 2015, compared to just 130,000 MKBF for Singapore.

Khaw said that TRTC's excellence stems from a strong focus on organisational structure, engineering excellence and passion of staff.

“TRTC is about 10 years younger than our North-South Line. In fact, the senior staff at TRTC told our study team that they came to study our MRT in their initial years. Some of them could still remember their tour of our Bishan Depot. We were then an exemplary MRT player and a subject of study. Unfortunately, perhaps due to complacency or certainly distracted management attention, we lost our earlier standing,” he said.

“Looking at the TRTC transformation journey and their achievements, I challenge SMRT and SBST to set stretched audacious targets, and work our guts out to attain them. TRTC's MKBF is now 800,000 train-km for delays exceeding 5 minutes. As I said, we were 130 odd thousand when I last spoke. Our preliminary figures for the 1st Quarter of 2016 show that we are now at about 160,000 train-km. But it's still a big gap,” he said.

Khaw challenged operators to aim for 400,000 MKBF by 2018, from 160,000 in Q1 2016.

“This is a very high target, seemingly impossible, looking from where we are today. But looking from where we came from, and what others have already achieved, I say: why not? Let's go for it,” he said.

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