Photo of China train in Singapore from Straits Times

According to state media Straits Times, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) has received the first out of 91 trains from China. The four-car train manufactured by China’s Qingdao Sifang are based off train designs by Japan’s Kawasaki Heavy Industries, and they will be deployed in the new Thomson-East Coast Line (TEL). The TEL, comprising of 31-stations over 43 km railway, will be opened in stages from the end of 2019 onward to 2024. Singapore’s LTA paid a total of S$749 million in the train supply contract with the China supplier.

In 2016, the China-made trains, by the same company Qingdao Sifang, were found to have severe manufacturer defects and were sent back to China. The Singapore government secretly covered up the return but the news was uncovered by an independent news media in Hong Kong.

TEL is Singapore’s sixth MRT line and it’s contract value of S$1.7 billion was awarded to Temasek Holdings-owned company, SMRT.

SMRT has the worst rail reliability record in Singapore, when compared to the other duopoly company SBS Transit. Last week, SMRT saw three breakdowns consecutively in a week – one at the North South Line, one at the East-West Line and one at Bukit Panjang LRT Line.

The new CEO of SMRT is a former army general with no railway management or private sector experience. Former Brigadier General Neo Kian Hong will officially replace the incumbent SMRT CEO Desmond Kuek on August 1.