Khaw: LTA Must Be Ready To Take Over MRT Ops

Minister for Transport Khaw Boon Wan has asked the Land Transport Authority (LTA) to prepare to take over operation and maintenance of the MRT, should the need arise.

Speaking at a forum on infrastructure maintenance yesterday (4 Dec), he emphasised the need to move away from the current model that separates the LTA as the designer and builder of the infrastructure, from the operators that also maintain it. 

“Creating an excellent rail system requires an integrated approach, from design to construction, actual operations and maintenance,” he said.

LTA engineers will soon be deployed to "augment the SMRT and SBST maintenance crews now", picking up valuable on-the-job experience, and beefing up its engineering capability.

However, some experts say that this proposal is not a hint towards nationalisation of our rail system.

Dr Walter Theseira, an economist at SIM University, believes the Government would still very much prefer to have the bulk of operations, logistics and maintenance done on a long-term contract basis.

"But the ability to step in and lead such operations in case the contractor fails is what the Government is pushing towards."

Dr Theseira thinks that something similar to the government bus contacting model might be applied to the rail industry. With the Government having ownership of all operating assets, the focus would be on meeting service standards without being burdened with heavy capital expenditures.

Do you think nationalisation of our rail system on the cards? Share your thoughts with us here!

Source: “LTA must be ready to take over MRT ops: Khaw” (Straits Times, 5 Dec) and “Rail nationalisation? Govt may simply be reclaiming its engineers” (Straits Times, 5 Dec)

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