Photo of Khaw Boon Wan at the sleepers replacement completion ceremony from Straits Times

Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan finally appeared in media reports today (Jan 21) after months of going into hiding from criticisms over the persistent train breakdown cases. The Minister’s last media statement on the train system is in November 2016.

Read: Minister Khaw Boon Wan: Singapore train will be better than Hongkong’s by 2018

Minister Khaw Boon Wan was captured on camera signing on a plaque at a ceremony, as a guest of honour alongside SMRT CEO Desmond Kwek. The ceremony was to mark the completion of the sleeper-replacement work, that is reported to increase train speed along the East-West line from the current 40km/hr to the 1990s-standards of 80km/hr. The Minister however did not make any public statement.

According to the Transport Ministry, a new train signalling system will begin construction from March. Upon completion (date is omitted), the new system is said to shorten train interval timing from 120s to 100s.

Singapore’s train system is currently at its worst performance, clocking train breakdown cases as frequent as weekly. According to official figures, there are 16 cases where a disruption registered more than 30 minutes delay in 2016. Just three days ago (Jan 18), a train break down caused a crippling 30 minutes-long service disruption due to a “track fault”.

The Singapore authorities however claim otherwise, saying that train performance has instead improved, with the assistance of the government-controlled media.

Read: SMRT Managing Director: Train reliability has improved since 2013

Read: Ministry of Transport: Train reliability improved 30% despite increase in breakdowns