The Land Transport Authority (LTA) said testing will be scheduled to avoid off-service hours on Sunday nights where possible, following a disruption on the North East Line (NEL) on Monday morning (26 Oct).
This is to minimise impact on passenger service during the morning peak hour the next day, should a train fault occur. On Monday, 41,000 NEL commuters were affected by a disruption due to a power fault, including students travelling to sit for A- or O- level exams.
In response, Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan wrote on his blog, “New trains had to be tested, but why was the testing done during a major exam period, especially on its first day?”
“In hindsight, LTA agreed that it could have limited the testing to only Saturday night/Sunday morning, rather than Sunday night, eating into Monday morning. This is a scheduling detail which we learnt through this episode.”
LTA said that in future, it will "adopt a risk-based approach" in developing the testing schedule for new trains.
Mr Khaw said LTA explained to him that testing was not a daily affair and was done progressively - first during engineering hours (off-service period at night during which maintenance and testing are carried out) over weekends, then during off-peak hours and then finally when ready, into peak hour traffic.
Mr Khaw also praised the “collaborative spirit” between the Singapore Examinations and Assessment Board and LTA. Contingency plans worked out beforehand were promptly activated after SBS Transit and LTA alerted the board of the delay.
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Source: “LTA changes train testing schedule” (Straits Times, 31 October 2015) and “Khaw questions timing of train test that led to NEL disruption” (TODAY, 31 October 2015)