Weekday signalling tests inevitable, allow problems to be spotted faster

We thank Mr Timothy Lee for his letter “MRT signalling tests: Better answers needed” (June 8).

During both incidents, on June 1 and 2, SMRT Trains deployed about 700 additional staff to assist commuters and manage crowds at the stations.

TransCom officers, the Traffic Police and Land Transport Authority (LTA) officers managed road traffic so that commuters could quickly resume their journeys using alternative modes of travel.

We acknowledge that more could have been done to manage the crowds and inform commuters of the additional travel time. We will strive to improve.

To test our new communications-based train control signalling system, weekday trials cannot be avoided.

Testing it under weekday conditions, when trains run more frequently and have higher passenger loads, gives us the opportunity to surface problems expeditiously.

A calibrated approach was taken when rolling out these tests, with commuters’ safety and the impact on their journeys in mind.

Full-day weekday tests began only after the LTA and SMRT were satisfied with earlier off-peak and Sunday trials, which ran smoothly.

Switching back to the legacy Westinghouse system when the incidents occurred on June 1 and 2, as Mr Lee suggested, could have caused a potentially longer delay and more inconvenience to commuters.

The trains with the new signalling system that were being tested would have had to be withdrawn from service before the switch could have occurred.

We seek commuters’ understanding and patience as we continue testing the new system, which will bring about a more reliable system when implemented, with shorter wait times.

Jeremy Yap
Deputy Chief Executive (Public Transport, Policy and Planning)
Land Transport Authority

Lee Ling Wee
Chief Executive Officer
SMRT Trains