Photo of Ling Wee Lee from Straits Times

SMRT Trains’ CEO Lee Ling Wee today (July 10) told the state media that he has “no choice” but to test the signalling system during peak hours resulting in severe train delay and serious inconvenience.

The former Air Force brigadier general said that the new signalling system will take “years” if testing is to be done only through non-operational hours:

“If we were to restrict the performance checks to only weekends, or engineering hours (i.e. 1.30AM – 4.30AM), it would take Singapore years to implement the new signalling system on the NSEWL. This is why we have no choice but to conduct checks throughout the day, including weekday peak hours, when trains are running at high frequencies with heavy commuter loads.”

The North-South-East-West (NSEW) line takes about two million passengers a day, said the SMRT Trains’ CEO, and that it is “not prudent” to shut down the lines for extended hours. The ex-military man also gave an excuse for his incompetency saying that “no two systems are identical” and that he is incapable of copying other countries’ public transport system:

“The system hardware and software we have are customised for the unique local environment. While the system supplier had experience working with other operators in the world, they are unable to simply replicate the well-oiled systems of Taipei, Hong Kong and London, and import those here.”

There is no deadline of when the signal tests will be completed given by the former army general. The CEO once tried to demolish a train line and revert back to buses after he gave up finding a solution:

Former Air Force General: Let’s scrap LRT, return to buses

There are currently two CEOs for SMRT, one is, also a former army general, Desmond Kuek and the other being Lee Ling Wee. Corruption and nepotism is deeply rooted in the Singapore government and government-linked companies like SMRT.

Rail reliability reached its unofficial worst with 8 faults over two weeks, as the government refuse to acknowledge the falling standards and instead rely on propaganda and selective reporting to claim “improvement” in rail reliability. The East West Line today also suffered another signal fault, delaying trips by more than 25 minutes.