Photo of Seah Moon Ming and Desmond Kuek from CNA

According to SMRT CEO Desmond Kuek in a press conference today (Mar 28), train delays during operation hours resulted from software glitches in the new signalling system are not considered as a breakdown and hence does not affect “rail reliability”:

“This is because of project-related disruptions faced between May to October in the implementation of the new CBTC signalling system. This data is not captured in the MKBF numbers because MKBF data is used for comparing the intrinsic reliability of the network from year to year, without the temporal and possibly distortive effect of short-term projects.”

The former army general said Singaporeans are wrong to believe rail reliability has worsen because his statistics shows otherwise. SMRT CEO Desmond Kuek claimed reliability has “doubled”:

“SMRT trains travelled further with fewer delays in 2017 compared to the year before. For the North-South Line (NSL), mean-kilometre between failure (MKBF), which measures delays of more than five minutes, has doubled from 156,000km in December 2016 to 336,000km in December 2017. In the same period, the MKBF for the East-West Line (EWL) increased from 145,000km to 278,000km, while the Circle Line’s (CCL) MKBF increased from 228,000km to 523,000km. For the first two months of this year, the MKBF for NSL and CCL has already exceeded next year’s target of 600,000km and credits this to the completion of sleeper and third rail replacement as well as the stabilisation of the new Communications-based Train Control (CBTC) signalling system… The reliability statistics show steady improvement especially in the last two to three years. But we acknowledge that they do not seem to square with commuters’ experience on the North-South and East-West Lines last year.”

SMRT Desmond Kuek then start singing praises about his train network and even claimed that he is going to achieve “zero delays”:

“We are gunning for zero safety breaches and zero delays of more than 30 minutes.”

The PAP crony dismissed the two major train incidents where one injured more than 25 in a collision incident, and the other flooded the Bishan tunnel due to falsifications of maintenance records:

“Both incidents were most regrettable, and gave us cause to pause, reflect on shortcomings and resolve to do better to address underlying discipline and process issues that led to the breaches. Last year, there were nine incidents that lasted more than 30 mins, excluding CBTC-related delays. This is three fewer than in 2016. Our goal is to reduce any delay to less than five minutes and in the worst, ensure that it does not last longer than 30 minutes. It is these major incidents, lasting longer than 30 minutes that we must strenuously avoid.”

In the financial report announced yesterday, SMRT posted a S$26 million profit and complained about “lower average fares”. The Public Transport Council has earlier confirmed that fares will be increased this year to help SMRT and SBS Transit earn more profit.