Recall of Defective Trains to China for Repair

The Workers’ Party is very concerned with the revelation of manufacturing defects in some of the trains used by the MRT, leading to 26 of these trains being shipped back to China for repair or replacement. Major issues affecting our public transport system should be discussed publicly.

Five of The Workers’ Party’s Members of Parliament filed parliamentary questions for oral answer to the Minister of Transport on Friday, 8 July 2016. As parliamentary procedure dictates that seven clear days are required for all questions, these questions were not raised in the sitting of Parliament on 11 July 2016. The questions will only be answered in the August sitting of Parliament.

We note that the Minister of Transport, Mr Khaw Boon Wan, gave a press briefing on 12 July 2016. Mr Khaw was reported by the media to have said, contradictorily, that the defective trains were not a major issue and yet would have caused a panic if the issue were made public.

We look forward to the Minister’s full account of the issue in Parliament in August. The five questions are as follows.

MP for Aljunied Pritam Singh: To ask the Minister for Transport (a) what are the total number of MRT trains deployed for operations; (b) what percentage of these trains are not embarking passengers due to depot-level train repairs through to 2019 affecting the trains supplied by CSR Sifang; (c) in what way has this episode affected the Ministry’s plans to improve the reliability of the MRT system.

MP for Aljunied Muhamad Faisal Abdul Manap: To ask the Minister for Transport whether members of the PTC, Board members of SMRT and the LTA and the management of Temasek Holdings were aware of both (a) the faults being discovered on trains supplied to the LTA by Kawasaki Heavy Industries and CSR Sifang in 2013; and (b) the subsequent train recall exercise.

NCMP Dennis Tan Lip Fong: To ask the Minister for Transport (a) was the Ministry/LTA aware of the problems with the MRT trains delivered in 2013 from Kawasaki Heavy Industries and CSR Sifang under a previous contract before placing new orders with the same consortium for more trains in 2014 and 2015; (b) if so, why were further contracts for additional trains extended to the same consortium; (c) did the Ministry/LTA evaluate alternative suppliers before placing the new orders in 2014 and 2015; (d) were any changes made to the new contracts with the consortium in 2014 and/or 2015 or any extraordinary QC measures put in place to ensure that the same problems would not recur; and (e) has the Ministry/LTA required the supplier to provide mitigating solutions or compensation for the operational set-back.

NCMP Daniel Goh Pei Siong: To ask the Minister for Transport, with regards to the 26 defective MRT trains, (a) whether the defects being not “safety-critical” meant that they pose zero safety risks for commuters, (b) why is it most effective for the car-bodies to be entirely replaced when cracks were found only on the bolsters, (c) what the risks are for cracks to happen on other components of the car-body, (d) whether the monthly safety assessment is focused only on the found defects or conducted for the entire train.

NCMP Leon Perera: To ask the Minister for Transport (a) whether current guidelines require information about the defects noted in/after 2013 and the subsequent train recall exercise initiated for 26 out of the 35 trains delivered to the LTA by Kawasaki Heavy Industries and CSR Sifang in 2013 to be made public; (b) if so, why was this information not released to the public prior to the news having been broadcast by a foreign news outlet; and (c) if not, will these guidelines be reviewed?

Dr Daniel Goh 
Chair, Media Team
The Workers’ Party

17 July 2016