Singapore saw it’s third major train breakdown in a week, with the Downtown Line paralysed for nearly 2 hours from 7am. Transport operator SBS Transit worsened the frustrations of the train delays by not bothering to issue any public announcement warning commuters of the train delay. However, according to SBS Transit in a later announcement, there was “no stoppage”.
During the peak hour morning today (May 24), Singaporean commuters on the Downtown Line took to Facebook and Twitter to inform their friends and colleagues of a major delay, with thousands of complains over the absence of public notice made to the Land Transport Authority and SBS Transit.
The profitable Temasek Holdings-linked transport operator was forced to apologise eventually, through state propaganda media Straits Times at around 12 noon. In their press release, SBS Transit openly misled the public in their “apology” claiming that the delay was “about 5 minutes” and that “there was no stoppage”:
“Train service on the Downtown Line (DTL) was delayed this morning by a signalling fault at Tampines West Station. On the approach to this station for both directions, trains had to be manually operated. This resulted in a slowdown in train speeds. Trains continued to arrive at stations but instead of the usual 2.5 minute headway, it lengthened to about 5 minutes. This resulted in more crowded trains and a build up of passengers at station platforms.
For example at Bedok Reservoir, some passengers may have waited about 15 minutes to board a train and the platforms were crowded.
The signalling processor was successfully reset at about 8.15am and normal service progressively resumed thereafter.
Throughout the fault until the processor’s reset, there was no stoppage of train service throughout the whole Downtown Line. We apologise that no alerts were issued and to all affected passengers, we are sorry for the inconvenience that was caused. We are investigating the cause of the fault with the LTA and the vendor.”
Unfortunately for SBS Transit, several commuters had posted on Facebook and Twitter confirming that the delay was over 1 hour. Even state media Straits Times published a commuter’s account verifying that trains were not moving at 8.18am until when he boarded a taxi at 8.28am.
By not counting the train delay as a breakdown, SBS Transit will be able to improve it’s rail reliability indicator, the mean kms travelled between failures (MKBF).
The Singapore government invented the MKBF standards as a propaganda to cover up the actual state of rail reliability. According to the Land Transport Authority, the duration of the breakdown has no impact on rail reliability. A 30-min breakdown will be considered equally as a 30-hour-long breakdown.
To fudge the rail reliability statistics, the Singapore government gives separate MKBF performance indicators for different train lines. This contradicts with the quality of Taipai Metro and Japan’s standards, where different train lines under the same company are counted under the same rail reliability performance standards.
It is also common to see SMRT and SBS Transit deliberately not making train delay announcements, to avoid registering the breakdown in the MKBF measurement.
According to Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan, commuters must pay higher fares if there are more train breakdowns. The PAP Minister said that the profits of SBS Transit and SMRT must be protected, so they would have funds to pay for infrastructural upgrades.