SMRT – AmFraser

SMRT plans $900m in rail maintenance, upgrade Bulk is for renewal, replacement; sum is on top of $30m annual maintenance

April hasn't been a good month for SMRT with five breakdowns and an ongoing inquiry into earlier disruptions in December, so the rail operator plans to spend an estimated $900 million in additional maintenance and upgrading to make the ride a lot smoother.

Between now and 2019, nine areas have been identified for the upgrade to ensure a safe and reliable rail system, said Tan Ek Kia, SMRT Corp's executive director and interim chief executive officer.

"The bulk will be for renewal and replacement, with some brought forward instead of maintaining it, for example, the train‐borne electronic cards," he said yesterday at a media briefing.

The system upgrade over the next eight years will be implemented on top of the usual $30 million‐plus annual maintenance programme for the North‐South and East‐West MRT lines.

Mr Tan stressed that the $900 million is an estimate and discussions with the Land Transport Authority are necessary regarding a "costsharing

According to SMRT Corp senior vice‐president for communications and services Goh Chee Kong, the plans to install wheel impact load detection systems and positive‐locking rail claws, and re‐sleeper and re‐signal the train lines, among others, have always been there.

"They are ongoing. But after the disruptions in December, we decided to bring them forward," said Mr Goh.

On Dec 15 and 17 last year, two massive MRT breakdowns affected 210,000 commuters and resulted in the ongoing Committee of Inquiry (COI). The COI, which started on April 16, is expected to last six weeks.

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