LRT breakdowns: ‘Afterthought’ & ‘political pressure’ – what about MRT breakdowns?

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With the high-frequency LRT breakdowns, is the LRT really a good transit way for commuters?

I refer to “Behind the ‘political pressure’ that led to the ‘afterthought’ of Bukit Panjang LRT” (Channel NewsAsia, Sep 16).

It states that “Issues such as accessibility problems and traffic congestion could be some of the factors alluded to by Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan, who on Tue (Sep 12) described Bukit Panjang Light Rail Transit (LRT) as an “afterthought” built under “political pressure”.

He (former MP for Chua Chu Kang) added that he “did not ask for the LRT”.

“When it was mooted, I objected to the cost of the S$285 million in building the LRT. In fact, I suggested a dedicated viaduct be built just for buses. It would solve congestion on the roads and was a much cheaper option. It was rejected for the reason that the LRT was an unmanned operation.”

“ROLLERCOASTER”

Bukit Panjang’s LRT system is now due to be overhauled after logging hundreds of operational mishaps since its introduction. The list runs the gamut from track faults and dislodged wheels to doors opening while in transit and trains either breaking down, stalling or failing to stop.

In some cases, commuters have even had to walk along raised outdoor tracks, although severe delays and disruptions have been a more common issue.

Last weekend (Sep 9), train services along the entire line were unavailable for five hours due to broken rail support brackets. Mr. Khaw had traced the issue to “hot junctions” where trains had to make “twists and turns”.

He added that the LRT was an “uncomfortable” ride – a consequence of being built after the town itself.

“No LRT is designed that way – in such a masochistic manner where you force yourself up and down, twist and turn,” said Mr Khaw. “I’ve taken the BPLRT a few times as a commuter, and I won’t say I enjoyed the ride because it caused me dizziness also – but that is life.”

Mr Khaw did not provide further comment for this story.

In this connection – if I may just ask a very simple question – what are the reasons or excuses for the frequent MRT breakdowns now – not “an “afterthought” or “built under “political pressure” right?

Leong Sze Hian

About the Author

Leong
Leong Sze Hian has served as president of 4 professional bodies, honorary consul of 2 countries, an alumnus of Harvard University, authored 4 books, quoted over 1500 times in the media , has been a radio talkshow host, a newspaper daily columnist, Wharton Fellow, SEACeM Fellow, columnist for theonlinecitizen and Malaysiakini, executive producer of Ilo Ilo (40 international awards), invited to speak more than 200 times in over 30 countries, CIFA advisory board member, founding advisor to the Financial Planning Associations of Indonesia and Brunei. He has 3 Masters, 2 Bachelors degrees and 13 professional  qualifications.