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Transport ministry reports 30% rise in rail reliability

Mean Kilometre Between Failure for 2016 was 174,000 train-km, up from 133,000 train-km in 2015, says perm sec

Bukit Panjang MRT station (above) is on the Downtown Line, the best performer among the train lines. It logged a Mean Kilometre Between Failure of 260,000 km.


SINGAPORE'S rail network achieved a 30 per cent improvement in reliability last year, with the best performer being the Downtown Line, said Permanent Secretary for Transport Pang Kin Keong.

Opening the Third Joint Forum on Infrastructure Maintenance on Thursday, he said the Mean Kilometre Between Failure (MKBF) in 2016 rose to 174,000 train-km from 2015's 133,000 train-km.

At the last forum in May 2016, Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan had challenged rail operators to achieve a MKBF of 400,000 train-km by 2018 for incidents resulting in service delays of more than five minutes; for 2020, the target is 800,000 train-km.

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Last year, the Downtown Line achieved 260,000 train-km, while the older Circle Line managed 228,000 train-km despite significant signalling problems.

Mr Pang said: "I believe that this improvement is the result of sharply increased investments in the renewal and upgrading of operating assets, the sharply intensified maintenance regimes put in place by the operators, and the adoption of good ideas from the larger engineering fraternity in Singapore."

He was also pleased by the quarter-by-quarter performance on the individual MRT lines, with both the North-South and East-West Lines achieving more than 200,000 train-km in the fourth quarter of 2016, as well as the North-East Line's consistent performance over the past four quarters.

"It gives me a small measure of confidence that if we are able to inject more consistency and sustainability into our efforts, the target of 400,000 train-km by 2018 is within reach," he said.

He added that technology should be better harnessed to improve rail operation and maintenance. As sensors and diagnostic equipment become more widely available and cheaper, a fusion of sensor data and smart analytics can be used to "continuously monitor the condition of the assets, proactively predict faults that are likely to happen, and fix them before they happen".

"This predictive maintenance approach also reduces maintenance costs, effort and downtime. This is because tasks are performed just-in-time, when warranted,'' he added.

Pointing to smart asset maintenance and management - another area where technology can be better harnessed - the permanent secretary disclosed that the Land Transport Authority is close to finalising the tender preparation for the development of an Enterprise Asset Management System.

This will lead to the launch in 2018 of a prototype for the Downtown Line, with focus on the rolling stock and signalling system.

Mr Pang also said that, with the third area of priority for rail-reliability efforts being the strengthening of the local engineering and maintenance core, more good engineering jobs will be created.

"We foresee the sector growing in employment from the 8,500 jobs today to 14,500 jobs by 2030, an increase of around 70 per cent."