Overall Rail Reliability Improved in Jan-Sep 2015

According to latest figures by the Land Transport Authority (LTA) released on Friday (12 Dec), overall rail reliability seems to have improved in the first three quarters of 2015 compared to 2014.

LTA introduced a new methodology to report train service delays, better measure the progress made in improving rail reliability, and facilitate international benchmarking. 

Here are the changes:
1)    Delays caused by external factors (those beyond control of operators or authorities, such as the actions of passengers) will be excluded
2)    Average distance travelled by trains during the time between rail delays will be used. Thus, the longer the distance, the better the reliability.

The old methodology may be more straightforward for the general public. However, the new method is more effective for engineers. It can tell them the overall performance, and whether efforts to rectify problems were effective. 

Professor Lee Der Horng from the National University of Singapore’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering said there is a need to strike a balance between engineers, persons doing maintenance and repair, as well as public perception.

“I think, no matter how you tell the public about improvements, the major breakdowns may register a bigger impact in the minds of commuters,” he said.

Applying the new methodology to past figures, rail reliability seems to have improved between 2014 and the first three quarters of 2015. The mean distance travelled between delays of over five minutes had the sharpest increase in the last five years – from 93,000 in 2014 to 149,900 km. 

The new Downtown Line 1 had the biggest improvement, followed by the North South and East West Lines, the North East Line, and the Circle Line.

Prof Lee said this shows work to improve rail reliability has been effective and the overall system looks like it is stabilising. But he noted an area that may be missing in the numbers – the severity of breakdowns. 

"Using the new methodology (on) this kind of large scale breakdown, the magnitude would not be reflected. We also need to find a way to inform the passengers, the general public, (of) the number of breakdowns and the scale of the breakdown,” said Prof Lee.

He added that this can allow the public to make a comparison between previous, current and future performance.

Statistics were not as favourable for the Light Rail Transit (LRT) system. 
The number of delays lasting more than 30 minutes on the LRT has already gone up from four in 2014 to 11 in the first three quarters of 2015.

Prof Lee said this should signal a warning over the reliability of the LRT system which has seen an increase in ridership over the years.

Source: “Overall rail reliability improved in first nine months of 2015: LTA”, (Channel NewsAsia, 11 Dec 2015)

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