LTA and SMRT Improve Train Maintenance and Incident Management

News Releases 14 Dec 2012 Committee of Inquiry (COI) train service disruptions

     The Committee of Inquiry (COI) into the December 2011 train service disruptions has made a number of recommendations to address inadequacies in areas of engineering and maintenance as well as incident management. Following from the COI recommendations, LTA and SMRT have continued to make progress in improving rail reliability and incident management readiness. (See Annex A for a summary of COI key recommendations and progress update.)

Improvements to SMRT’s Engineering & Maintenance

2   The COI had recommended that greater emphasis be placed on preventive maintenance and detection of future problems related to the third rail system and trains. Besides enhancing its maintenance regime, SMRT will introduce new technology from January next year to improve its surveillance and maintenance of third rail support assemblies. This includes retrofitting two North South East West Line (NSEWL) trains with sensors to improve the timely detection of third rail sags. These displacement sensors, which profile the position of the Current Collector Device (CCD) shoe, can detect abnormalities so that they can be rectified immediately. In addition, a mobile track trolley is also used to manually check the condition of the third rail. SMRT will also leverage the use of laser technology mounted on maintenance locomotives to facilitate track inspections, trackside cameras to monitor third rail condition, and a Wheel Impact Load Detection (WILD) system to continuously monitor the condition of train wheels.

3   Even as SMRT adopts more condition monitoring and strengthens predictive maintenance, LTA has stepped up its audits on the public transport operators’ (PTO) maintenance systems and processes.  These assurance checks are in addition to the audits on the PTOs’ Safety Management Systems.

4   To further improve train safety and reliability, LTA and SMRT will commission an independent consultancy study into SMRT’s asset management framework to benchmark the system against the PAS 551 standard  of good practices. The study is expected to be concluded in second quarter of 2013. Following the study, SMRT will engage an independent consultant every three years to review, calibrate and enhance its asset maintenance to sustain a higher level of reliability for an ageing system.

5   LTA and SMRT have also embarked on the replacement of sleepers and upgrading of the signalling system on the North South East West Line (NSEWL). This is part of a major system upgrade plan to improve the train network. When completed, commuters can expect shorter waiting times and experience a smoother MRT journey.

Improvements to Emergency Response

6   To improve emergency response, LTA has worked with both PTOs to align incident classification levels for train service disruptions.  LTA has also reviewed the PTOs’ command structure and Standard Operating Procedures to ensure that they are well-equipped to manage large-scale incidents. 

7   To minimise inconvenience to commuters, SMRT has reviewed its Rail Incident Management Plan and associated processes to manage large-scale incidents.  This includes increasing its Customer Service Team members from 190 to 700, or more than 3.5 times. Officers will also undergo training in incident management including customer service and crowd control.  SMRT has also introduced prominent pull-down screens as well as electronic LCD displays to inform commuters of train service disruption in a timely manner. Besides the shuttle buses, commuters can also board the regular public bus services for free at designated bus stops serving the affected stations to continue their journey.

8   Finally, to ensure PTO duty officers are adequately prepared to deal with train service disruptions and are familiar with their incident management roles and responsibilities, LTA has been conducting random surprise audits at train stations. An emergency exercise with ground deployments was also carried out on 22 November 2012, simulating a train service disruption on the East-West Line between Clementi and Queenstown stations. The observations from the audits and the exercise are shared with both SMRT and SBS Transit, and LTA works closely with both PTOs to fine-tune our collective emergency response plans and enhance the operational readiness of frontline staff.

LTA-SMRT Joint Team

9   Beyond the COI recommendations, LTA and SMRT have also continued with efforts to further improve rail reliability through the work of the LTA-SMRT Joint Team. We have reduced train withdrawal rates from 3.2 (per 100,000 km) in 2011 to about 2.6 for the second half of the year, and are on track to meet the 30% reduction in withdrawal rate of 2.1 for end 2013.


1PAS 55 is the British Standards Institution's (BSI) Publicly Available Specification for the optimised management of physical assets. It provides clear definitions and a 28-point requirements specification for establishing and verifying whole-life management system for all types of physical assets. Internationally recognised, PAS 55 has proven successful with widespread adoption in utilities, transport, mining, process and manufacturing industries worldwide. The International Standards Organisation (ISO) accepts PAS 55 as the basis for development of the new ISO 55000 series of international standards.

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