Once upon a time we were told the MRT congestion could not be relieved owing to constraints in the existing signalling system. Yesterday, Minister of State (Transport) Josephine Teo said there are simply not enough trains to run two-minute intervals throughout the morning and evening peak periods.
It was announced that a total of 35 trains will be added to the present fleet in the next 4 years. 5 arrived in May, but we are not told if they have been put in service. "We are fully committed to expanding the train fleet in order to improve frequencies in order of train arrivals," she chirped to a skeptical public. "You can always take the next train," was no longer politically acceptable.
Teo blamed the manufacturers for the tardy progress in the production line. The world has only a handful of train makers she claimed, naming Siemens (German), Alstom (French) and Bombardier (Canadian). Obviously she hasn't heard of other players like Hyundai-Rotem and the Chinese builders for the Chinese Ministry of Railways (MOR). Incidentally Bombardier's Derby plant is cutting jobs after losing the big Thameslink contract to Siemens - they should be hungry for a Singapore order. Building rolling stock is not exactly rocket science. Has anybody considered our local shipyards who construct engineering behemoths like state of the art floating rigs for deep sea exploration offshore Brazil? In the heydays of the containerisation buildup, many of the trailers and prime-movers for the container port were assembled from components sourced from Fruehauf and other brand names; the formula could be repeated.
Teo gave another excuse for the wait. The bigger fleet will take advantage of the new signaling system which reduces the spacing between trains, scheduled to be ready only by 2016. There will be no shortcut, the period for repentance will not be abbreviated.