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LTA must be ready to take over rail operations for an integrated approach: Khaw

Friday, December 4, 2015 - 10:24
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Singapore's Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan, a strong advocate of an integrated rail system, again hinted at a restructuring which could result in a "One Team'' approach.

SINGAPORE'S Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan, a strong advocate of an integrated rail system, again hinted at a restructuring which could result in a "One Team'' approach to raise rail reliability.

Speaking at a forum on infrastructure maintenance, Mr Khaw said the Land Transport Authority (LTA) must beef up its pool of engineers to take on operations and maintenance. An integrated approach must be adopted from design and construction, right through to actual operations and maintenance.

"Our current model separates the designer and builder, LTA, from the maintainer and operator, SMRT and SBST. From an economist's viewpoint, this allows for more competition in choosing the operator. From an engineer's viewpoint, it is not so ideal from the life-cycle perspective. But it is not easy or desirable to change the model overnight,'' Mr Khaw said.

Mr Khaw, who is the Coordinating Minister for Infrastructure, stressed the way to achieve the high standards that Singaporeans expect of infrastructure is to further develop the country's overall engineering capacity and capability, through a united infrastructure corps "to close the loop between design and operation".

"This requires unwavering commitment from top-level management, from MOT (Ministry of Transport), LTA and the train operators. I am devoting part of my time to this effort, as it is critical to raising rail reliability,'' he said.

A few weeks ago, Mr Khaw had made similar remarks in a blog post, where he set out a seven-element strategy which will require an immense multi-year effort from LTA, SMRT and SBST.

On Friday, he also announced that LTA, PUB, Singapore's national water agency, SBS Transit and SMRT Corporation have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to enhance collaboration in the area of infrastructure maintenance through knowledge sharing and staff development.

The collaboration will involve asset management strategies, maintenance programmes, maintenance expertise and audit processes. Engineers from the four organisations will be able to share their knowledge, experience and best practices in their respective domains.

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