Trains travelled further without delay in 2017 despite stats ‘not squaring with commuter experience’: SMRT

In spite of major incidents in 2017 that rose eyebrows from the public, SMRT says that rail reliability had improved nonetheless in that year.
The Straits Times

Trains covered longer distances without disruptions in 2017 compared to the year before and this will likely continue to improve, according to public transport operator SMRT.

In a statement made on Wednesday (Mar 28), SMRT said higher mean-kilometre between failure (MKBF) for the North-South and East-West Lines (NSEWL) and Circle Line (CCL) was achieved in recent months.

The MBKF is an international performance indicator for rail reliability that measures how far trains travel before incurring a delay lasting more than 5 minutes, said SMRT president and group CEO Mr Desmond Kuek.

In 2017, the MKBF for the North-South Line (NSL) more than doubled from 156,000km in December 2016 to 336,000km in December 2017.

It increased for the East-West Line (EWL) from 145,000km to 278,000km while the CCL saw an increase from 228,000km to 523,000km, both within the same time period.

SMRT aims to achieve 1 million km in MBKF – with less than an average of one delay incident each month – by 2020.

SMRT chairman Mr Seah Moon Ming said: “We want to ensure that all MRT assets are properly maintained, renewed and upgraded throughout their entire life cycle so as to achieve punctuality and high availability of MRT services for our commuters.”

SMRT did not shy away from addressing the major incidents that happened on its rails which caused many eyebrows to be raised.

Notable incidents include the flooded train tunnels between Braddell and Bishan MRT stations and the collision of two trains at Joo Koon Station in 2017.

“The reliability statistics show steady improvement especially in the last 2-3 years. But we acknowledge that they did not seem to square with commuters’ experience on the North-South and East-West lines last year,” said Mr Kuek.

He added that the hiccups were due to project-related disruptions in the implementation of the new communications-based train control system and the majority of faults were the result of a loss of train-to-trackside signal.

Nonetheless, these don’t have an effect on the MBKF performance.

According to Mr Kuek, the data from faults is not captured in MBKF numbers since MBKF data is used to compare the intrinsic reliability of the train network year to year.

Hence, temporal and possibly distortive effects of short-term projects are not accounted for.