Screenshot from Twitter video

SMRT’s newest army general CEO Neo Kian Hong saw his first major breakdown yesterday (May 18) with the North-South Line paralysed for more than 3 hours. During the peak hour evening at 6pm, the screen doors at Dhoby Ghaut station were unable to close. Trains were seen travelling through with the station platform doors opened.

As like in previous breakdowns, SMRT used a similar “delay technique” in their information dissemination by first announcing a 45-mins delay, then three delay extensions of 25-mins at 6.15pm, 35-mins at 6.45pm and 45 mins at 7.45pm. Although the screen doors were only fixed at 8.10pm, the trains were not functioning normally according to commuters.

Passengers reported that trains were stopping intermittently in between stations and stations were overcrowded.

There is no response from the new SMRT CEO, who has zero experience in railway business and just started his first day in the private sector last month after decades of military and civil service. Neo Kian Hong will officially take over the SMRT duties from August 1, but according to Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan, he has already started working at April.

There is currently a disconnect between official figures and public experience on rail reliability, with the Singapore government publishing skewed statistics. In their rail reliability indicators, “project-related” breakdowns are not counted and the length of downtime longer than 30 minutes have no impact on rail reliability i.e. an 8-hour long delay will be considered as a “major breakdown” just like a 31-min-long breakdown.

Earlier this week, Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan announced that S$900 million will be spent to replace the power system on the North-South and East-West Line. The Transport Ministry has in recent years overspending it’s budget due to poor planning and legalised corruptions like the S$1 billion-bailout for SMRT and SBS Transit in 2016 and several tax-funded projects like giving free buses to the two private companies