Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan said on his blog on Tuesday (17 Nov) that the Land Transport Authority (LTA) is drafting a “stringent set” of maintenance performance standards for rail operators.
This includes a multi-pronged strategy to restore reliability of the North South East West Lines (NSEWL), including upgrading the system and a culture of strong maintenance and less finger-pointing when things go wrong.
He also suggested for more time to be set aside during off-peak periods for maintenance of MRT lines. “If revenue service can be reduced by even half an hour during such off-peak periods, it will mean a lot to the maintenance crew, especially for the inspection and repair of tunnels and tracks. We hope to get commuters’ support for such a measure,” said Mr Khaw.
Currently, some MRT stations on the East-West line close half an hour early from Sundays to Thursdays (excluding eve of public holidays) for sleeper replacement work. Along with other replacement exercises, this work is scheduled to be completed by 2018.
Mr Khaw said that the new maintenance performance standards will have “more prescriptive, process-based requirements” for operators to complement the current outcome-based approach.
He reiterated that a stronger maintenance culture “cannot be cultivated overnight”. To spur this, LTA will embed dedicated teams of engineers for the NSWEL for a start.
Another new culture which he wants to instill is “an enlightened approach of transparency and open collaboration among all parties”. “I am insisting on such a culture,” Mr Khaw said.
He repeated that the current level of maintenance is inadequate. SMRT and SBS Transit are committed to significantly increasing maintenance resources, including manpower, Mr Khaw said. “Building up the numbers is one thing. Building a strong engineering core with deep skills is another and will take time. The availability of skilled manpower is a challenge which we must overcome.”
He also stressed the need for “clear corporate and top management focus on engineering excellence”.
At the industry level, there also needs to be greater integration with all parties involved in the different stages (design, build, operate, maintain) working closely together, Mr Khaw said. The Government is considering “whether to rework the (industry) structure or perhaps implement new processes to realise the ideal outcome”.
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Source: “LTA to raise the bar on rail maintenance standards”, (TODAY, 18 November 2015)