Photo of Pang Kin Keong from Straits Times

Speaking in at a public forum today (Jan 12), Permanent Secretary (PS) for the Ministry of Transport, Pang Kin Keong, claimed  that train reliability in Singapore has improved by 30% – even though the number of breakdowns has increased.

“The mean kilometre between failure (MKBF) for incidents resulting in delays of more than five minutes recorded on the entire network increased from 133,000 train-kilometre in 2015, to 174,000 train-kilometre last year — a 30 per cent improvement.”

Without giving any figures, the Transport Ministry PS however also said that the number of serious delays of more than 30 minutes have gone up in the past three years. Nonetheless, the PS expressed confidence the “improvement” will reach 400,000 train-km next year in 2018, surpassing Hong Kong and Taiwan railway standards.

The PS also announced that the government will be replacing 66 first-generation 29-year-old trains on the North-South and East-West lines. It is understood that the Singapore government bailed out SMRT by buying over its existing assets to use tax monies for the exorbitant replacement and overhaul. A total of S$4 billion paid for by taxes will be spend on upgrading and maintenance of existing rail lines, while an additional S$20 billion will be spent building new rail lines.

The PS however deflected blame from SMRT claiming that the operator has did its due diligence:

“Reliability improvements were the result of sharply intensified maintenance regimes put in place by the operators, along with an increase in the investment to upgrade and renew existing rail assets.”

This is also the first time a PS is fronting the public forum addresses as Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan does not want his political reputation be associated with the failing train infrastructure.