Firstly, I am not discounting the fact that our train systems have been acting up in the recent months, that electrical faults are reportedly the cause of rail disruptions and that SMRT’s maintenance processes have to be re-evaluated and reinforced. I also desire to have breakdown-free, hassle-free rides in this efficient island nation. However, looking at the recent sequence of events above, I shall attempt to find something positive in this climate of negativity.
I am quite surprised that SMRT has released details about their recent disruptions. Assuming that the information provided in the article is credible, an alternate angle or a headline can be, “SMRT’s rail safety systems are in good working order.
Out of the six reported rail disruption incidents, five of them are linked to the triggering of safety devices. Again, SMRT and the regulatory bodies need to uncover the root glitches that tripped the safety systems. But hey, at least we know that the safety systems are in place and in good working condition.
Should the safety devices have failed in three of the six reported incidents (Apr 13, 17 & 22), we would either have three runaway trains with no working brakes or worse, three runaway trains with no brakes and wide-open doors. I do not want to imagine such a scenario (but Final Destination images still popped up). Thankfully, the safety devices tripped and stopped the trains from resuming service. In the interest of safety, thousands of commuters were delayed or left stranded in trains and on platforms. The 11 passengers on the stalled LRT train had to evacuate to the nearest station by walking along an emergency walkway right next to the tracks.
Similar to the above three incidents, the Apr 18 one could have ended catastrophically should the driver-less train autonomously continued service without a working communication link (A rouge robot in iRobot).
Lastly, for the Apr 8 incident, I don’t think we have that many track intrusion cases as we do not have wild-roaming animals searching for new food or water sources. But yea, better be safe than sorry.
Dear SMRT, even as you investigate the root causes of those glitches, disruptions and breakdowns, please do not forget or even deactivate the safety devices that ultimately protect passengers on your services. Yes, no doubt, they are the very same devices that causes inconvenience to many commuters especially during rush hours, but we value our lives too. Do not, in the process of caving in to public pressure to keep the train system running smoothly, circumvent the safety devices instead of dutifully looking into and fixing the root issues (old tracks, old trains, electrical issues, maintenance process, etc).
I am looking forward to your 8-year, 900-million-dollar parts and infrastructure replacement programme (SMRT said that this amount is more than the amount spent on maintenance in the last decade).
Thanks and regards.