The first step to improving rail reliability is to know what causes disruptions. There are several reasons: equipment and component failure, operation and maintenance lapses by operators and contractors, passenger action, and design issues. A look back on major disruptions provides some clues. When external factors such as passenger action are excluded, almost half of the major disruptions on our oldest North-South and East-West Lines (NSEWL) were due to train issues, with other factors such as track or power faults causing the rest.
As with all machines, as trains age, we must work harder to keep them in good condition. Like those in London and New York, trains can last us twenty years or longer, if they are maintained properly and refurbished at the right time. Eventually, we must decide when to replace them with new trains. Fortunately, with time, better train models with enhanced reliability features have become available in the market. These trains are also easier to operate and maintain. Adding them to our fleet can therefore make a difference to the overall performance of the rail network and in turn, better our service delivery.
From this year to 2019, we will be adding 99 new trains: 57 for NSEWL, 18 for the North East Line and 24 for the Circle Line. These new trains will have improved propulsion systems, and more reliable and durable AC synchronous motors which require less maintenance. The new NSEWL trains will also have electric train doors that need lower maintenance and will eliminate air leakage problems associated with the older pneumatic doors. The operations data for each train door will be logged and stored for the maintenance crew to pre-empt door faults before they occur.
As part of the train purchases, we post our rail engineers and technical staff to the overseas factories where the trains are being built, to monitor the entire assembly process and participate in train testing. This also helps our officers gain valuable experience and enhance their technical understanding of the trains.
These 99 trains will cost us over a billion dollars upfront, but they will be a worthy investment. They will be more cost effective in the longer run. Most of all, they will help us achieve higher rail reliability.
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