Photo of SMRT Chairman Seah Moon Ming and the two CEOs from Straits Times

SMRT’s newly-hired Chairman Seah Moon Ming announced yesterday (Oct 23) that he will be hiring 200 more engineers to fix the worsening rail reliability issues SMRT lines are facing. The 40% increase in engineering manpower will bring the total to 700.

Also announced is the introduction of “independent” audit teams, which will conduct internal checks on the maintenance department. The maintenance department recently took headlines over failing to uphold a maintenance regime that led to the breakdown of a water drainage pump system, leading to flooding in the train tunnels between Bishan and Newton.

In SMRT’s two CEOs absence, the SMRT Chairman vowed to reverse the worsening rail reliability issue:

“We have a long road ahead of us as we drive towards rail excellence. We must win back the public’s trust and confidence in SMRT. This is why we need engineers with a high level of competence, applied courageously and leveraged through the right connections.”

SMRT Chairman also promised to get ready contingency plans when a disruption occurs:

“Even as SMRT works with the Land Transport Authority to upgrade older rail lines and to improve maintenance, engineering expertise will also be called upon to build resilience in the network with more “fail-safe” and “fail-soft” features. This means that even when the rail system breaks down, it fails in a safe manner and it does not fail totally, with back-ups in place.”

Unlike the two SMRT CEOs who spent their entire life in the army, Seah Moon Ming is not a former army general. The former Deputy CEO of Singapore Technologies has an electrical engineering background and a master of science.

Seah Moon Ming took headlines last week when he bowed down apologising for the slew of train breakdowns in a press conference. The rare move is especially rare among the untouchable elites of the ruling government like SMRT CEO Desmond Kuek and Minister Khaw Boon Wan.

Singapore’s rail reliability is currently among the worst in the world with breakdowns occurring as frequent as weekly. However the country’s two Transport Ministers remain in denial mode and instead insist that there has been improvements.