8 Positive Changes to SMRT – With CEO Desmond Kuek

Took the public transport and reached your destination on time? Meet the man who has been largely instrumental in making this happen – SMRT CEO and Group President, Desmond Kuek.

Wondering what was the impact on Singapore’s public transport after Desmond Kuek took office?

Here’s a compilation of an article featured on The News Paper. This highlights 8 positive changes that have taken place since October 2012, when Desmond Kuek came on board.

  1. More technical staff at work:

    To highlight numbers – SMRT’s team of technicians grew to 2,169 (21% increase). Also, the number of engineers stands at 278 (59% increase). Though the report didn’t explicitly mention benefits of employing more people with better technical knowledge, it sure showed improvements.

  1. Fewer trains withdrawn due to faults:

    Withdrawal rate refers to the percentage of trains withdrawn from service because of faults. This has come down from 3.3 for every 100,000 km operated in 2012 to 1.05 last year. Desmond Kuek said – “This is the lowest in seven years. And we are targeting to go even lower this year.”

  1. Worn-out gear steadily being replaced:

    An ongoing project, this includes replacing wooden sleepers with concrete ones. As of January 2017, re-sleepering is 100% complete on the North-South and East-West Lines.

  1. Replacement of power-supplying third rail:

    Did you know that the main cause of two massive breakdowns in 2011 was identified to be sagging sections of the third rail? Another ongoing project, replacement of 3rd Rail is 71% complete on the North-South and 83% complete on the East-West Lines, as of January 2017.

  1. Shorter intervals for train signalling system:

    With this change in signalling, trains can arrive every 100 seconds. On the other hand, trains can currently arrive every 120 seconds. The re-signalling project is expected to be completed on the NSL in 2017 and on the EWL in 2018.

  1. Overhaul older trains:

    These older trains will be fitted with new motors from Toshiba. These motors are supposed to use 30% less electricity.

  1. A new framework for rail financing:

    The Government will own all operating assets. Of course, this will help allow SMRT to focus on quality of service, without being bogged down by the massive capital expenditure.

  1. Changing commuter behaviour:

    The best example of this is train platform door at Serangoon MRT Station. Affixed with a poster of the cartoon character Move-in Martin, this was a part of a campaign launched to promote thoughtfulness.

From what we see, many measures that are being undertaken to improve Singapore’s transport system are inspired by successful cases abroad. For instance, the CEO, Desmond Kuek mentioned about service ambassadors in Taipei being deployed to block people from boarding when train doors are in the process of closing. This evidently helps in preventing commuters from herding around the train. No doubt, without this, trains would remain at the station longer and hence hold up subsequent trains.

All things considered, what do these changes and work-in-progress measures mean for commuters? A greater likelihood of more comfortable rides. And perhaps a lot more, which will be evident in the near future.

SMRT CEO and Group President Desmond Kuek

SMRT CEO Desmond Kuek, standing in front of the new SMRT train at Bishan MRT depot on June 16 2015. For a story on what he has achieved so far after 3 years in SMRT. (Photo: Lim Yaohui for The Straits Times)

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