SMRT has announced that it plans to hire 40 percent more rail engineers by 2020 and set up readiness inspection teams to audit maintenance works
SMRT to hire 40% more rail engineers, set up teams to audit maintenance work Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan and SMRT's new Chairman Seah Moon Ming at Bishan Depot on Aug 28, 2017. PHOTO: FACEBOOK/KHAW BOON WAN

SINGAPORE - SMRT has set a target of hiring 40 per cent more rail engineers by 2020, beefing up the total number to 700 from the current 500.

It will also set up readiness inspection teams, which will report independently to an audit and risk committee, to audit maintenance works. The teams will serve as an additional layer of checks and balances.

These measures to boost MRT reliability were announced by SMRT chairman Seah Moon Ming on Monday (Oct 23).

"We have a long road ahead of us as we drive towards rail excellence. We must win back the public's trust and confidence in SMRT," said Mr Seah in a speech, his first public remarks since last week's press conference to address a tunnel flooding incident earlier this month.

"This is why we need engineers with a high level of competence, applied courageously and leveraged through the right connections," he added.

Mr Seah was speaking at the Nanyang Technological University at One-North, to some 250 SMRT engineers who are attending a postgraduate certificate course jointly run by SMRT and the University of Birmingham.

Mr Seah said that even as SMRT works with the Land Transport Authority to upgrade older rail lines and to improve maintenance, engineering expertise will also be called upon to build resilience in the network with more "fail-safe" and "fail-soft" features.

This means that even when the rail system breaks down, it fails in a safe manner, and it does not fail totally, with backups in place, he said.

SMRT will also require more engineers in the lead up to the opening of the Thomson-East Coast Line (TEL), which opens from 2019, and which it won a contract to operate.