Updated: 03/12/2014 00:18

MOT pledged to bring down NSEWL train withdrawal rates by 20%

MOT pledged to bring down NSEWL train withdrawal rates by 20%

Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew says more can be done to improve the reliability and quality of train services. 

He says that he aims to bring down train withdrawal rates in the North-South, East-West Lines by about 20 per cent this year. 

938LIVE's John Yip, has more. 

There were a number of train disruptions in the first two months of this year even as the overall trend of train withdrawals is moving in the right direction. 

One in late January, affected 19,000 commuters. 

Mr Lui says this is a stark reminder that improving train reliability is a lengthy and painstaking journey. 

He plans to bring down the train withdrawal rate to 1.8 withdrawals for every hundred thousand train-kilometres by the end of this year. 

And a more ambitious target of below 1.5 per hundred thousand train-kilometres by 2016. 

Speaking during the Committee of Supply debate, Mr Lui says the Public Transport Operators, or PTOs, are taking a more proactive approach towards the maintenance of the rail system. 

"Our operators are strengthening their maintenance regimes to actively monitor the condition of their assets, to predict where the problems are most likely to occur, and to take pre-emptive steps where required." 

The focus is on reducing train disruptions during the morning peak hours, because these cause the greatest inconvenience to the most commuters. 

"A nd so the operators must enhance their night-time enhancement works, and conduct more stringent checks on the condition of the trains, just before they are launched into revenue service." 

Ageing rail infrastructure is also being upgraded. 

He adds that these measures are complemented with tigther regulations and higher penalties. 

The government recently raised the maximum penalty for poor service performance to 10 per cent of fare revenue, or $1 million, whichever is higher. 

Mr Lui says the Fare Review Mechanism Committee had considered whether to link fares to service quality. 

But it concluded that the issue of service level is best addressed separately by the government, which can directly regulate the PTOs. 

"I think, overall, this is a sensible and practical approach. It does not mean that we are not raising service levels. For instance, we have tightened MRT operating standards and improved the service levels for buses."

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