In the first admission of overpopulation problem, Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan today (Nov 13) said that the overcrowding has “forced” the government to add new trains which strained the power capacity of the train system:
“We were cutting it real close. And the need to reduce overcrowdedness in trains forced us to add new trains, further pushing the limits on our power capacity.”
Transport Minister also said that he will be reducing train operation hours to allow for more maintenance time. However he made no mention of reducing train fares despite the shortfall in service delivery:
“More engineering hours are needed to allow for ageing rail assets to be quickly upgraded. This means that train operating hours will likely be reduced. So far, upgrading work has been done on two rail assets – sleepers and the third rail. Work still needs to be done on the signalling system, the power supply, trains and track circuits.”
Calling it a “zero-sum” game, Minister Khaw Boon Wan said the operating hours must be shorten or otherwise he does not know how to fix the persistent breakdowns:
“That is why we need more engineering hours. This can only come if we reduce train operating hours. It is a zero-sum game.”
Public transport fares were recently increased by 4.2%, despite increasing frequency of train breakdowns and shorten operating hours at Bukit Panjang LRT.