Last year, we marked our 30th year of operations since the first MRT stations opened. Our journey continues, as we strive to be the people’s choice by providing a world class public transport service and lifestyle experience that is safe, reliable and commuter-centric.

We take our mission seriously, knowing that we touch the lives of millions of passengers because of their daily commute on our trains, buses and taxis. Successive generations of Singaporeans have grown up with our stations and interchanges being part of their collective memories. At SMRT, we are committed to moving people, enhancing lives – serving with a common purpose to build trust and bring on smiles every day, and with everyone who journeys with us.

Journeying toward Rail Excellence

Key to that service excellence goal is our emphasis on improving rail reliability and availability. Our multi-year, multi-project effort to renew and improve the North-South and East-West Lines, our oldest lines, is one of the most ambitious rail transformation programmes undertaken on a live system anywhere in the world. Extended engineering hours afforded by early closure and late opening of the lines have enabled rail maintenance and renewal works to be accelerated. With the replacement of all 188,000 wooden sleepers, change-out of the entire power (third) rail system, expansion of the power system and introduction of a new Communication-based Train Control signalling system, we are now seeing significantly improved reliability on the lines.

Last year, Mean Kilometres Between Failure (MKBF), a reliability indicator used by international metros, improved on the Circle Line to 523,000km, 129% better than in 2016. The North-South Line (NSL) and East-West Line (EWL) achieved 336,000km and 278,000km, improving by 115% and 92% respectively compared with the previous year. Early indications this year show promising results, and we expect to reach even closer to our goal of 1 million in MKBF.

We have overcome the initial teething issues faced with the new signalling system on the NSL, and look forward to smoother implementation on the EWL in the coming months. When the project is completed this year and with more new trains delivered, the improved train availability and shortened headways will increase overall passenger capacity, especially during peak hours.

Total journey time and train arrival punctuality are also important service quality measures, and are expected to improve with the stabilising of the new signalling system. In addition, we are harnessing technology as a key enabler to transform rail operations. A Future Systems Office has been set up to engender a knowledge-driven enterprise for operations and maintenance, with condition monitoring sensors and data analytics for predictive maintenance of our rail assets. A new integrated Maintenance Operations Centre will be established this year, further improving our ability to troubleshoot faults responsively. We launched an upgraded mobile application to aid commuters in journey planning, with relevant real-time information on train arrivals and station crowdedness.

Although much progress was made in rail reliability, public confidence was unfortunately shaken by a tunnel flood in October 2017 resulting from maintenance failure by the work team, and a train collision in November 2017 because of unexpected disabling of a protective feature on the affected train. Safety remains of paramount importance, and a comprehensive review was conducted to strengthen safety audits and procedures, control measures, and staff training to prevent future occurrence.

We continue to work closely with the Land Transport Authority to manage asset life cycle to achieve greater reliability, availability, maintainability, safety and security, under the new rail financing framework that was approved in 2016 and successfully implemented last year. Following the privatisation of SMRT from November 2016, we have also been addressing with our stakeholders the urgent resource demands for rail system sustainability over the long term.

Building People Competencies

With our eye on the future, we have been developing indigenous capabilities in rail engineering, procurement and construction, and our first locally refurbished trains will be fielded in the coming months. Our core of rail experts and technical staff have also been boosted, with engineering and technical manpower numbers growing more than 150% since 2013. We expect to raise our engineer numbers from 500 by another 40% over the next two years. 1,000 more staff will be added this year to our rail headcount to increase maintenance and engineering capability, strengthen commuter touchpoints, and prepare for the first phase of the Thomson-East Coast Line (TEL) in 2019.

We have been working in partnership with the National Transport Workers’ Union to instil a culture of discipline and accountability amongst managers and staff. A milestone Memorandum of Understanding was signed to jointly create a future-ready workforce with life-long employability, increased productivity, enhanced professionalism and strong employee engagement.

Shaping the Future of Urban Mobility

With better tools for demand aggregation, we look forward to meeting commuters’ needs in first- and last-mile transport connectivity. SMRT has been developing its Mobility-as-a-Service capabilities to provide customised solutions and a digital platform through which users can decide on their preferred travel mode based on time, cost and convenience. Nanyang Technological University’s lush campus and CleanTech Park in Jurong Innovation District have been transformed into a live test-bed for the integration of multiple transportation options and new technologies.

SMRT Buses also launched its first Integrated Transport Hub at Bukit Panjang, dramatically improving the connectivity and travel experience for residents and visitors using bus services to the LRT system and Downtown MRT Line.

Expanding Our Operational Footprint

We are excited to have won the tender for the TEL which will add 43km and 31 new stations to our network when fully operational in 2024, improving accessibility for our commuters. We also accepted the offer by the Governments of Singapore and Malaysia to work jointly with Prasarana in the Johor Bahru-Singapore Rapid Transit System Link.

In 2017, SMRT Taxis successfully rolled out Singapore’s first taxi sharing scheme, providing taxi partners more flexibility in managing their work schedule. We also entered an exclusive partnership with Grab for access to our current and future taxi and private-hire car fleet.

Overseas, our subsidiary Strides Transportation entered a joint venture with Toyota Tsusho Corporation and Myanmar’s Alliance Urban Transport to establish limousine and car rental services in Myanmar. SMRT International also won consultancy contracts to assist local authorities in the upcoming Palembang and Jabodebek LRT projects in Indonesia, and with the Mauritius Government for their new LRT system.

Reaching Out to the Community

As part of our 30th anniversary commemoration, we launched The Gift of Mobility Fund with $30 million in cash and contributions in kind, working with Community Chest to lend a helping hand to those with mobility needs. Together with the Ministry of Social and Family Development and NTUC Learning Hub, we initiated an inclusive service delivery programme to train frontline staff in supporting the elderly, visually impaired, and those with special mobility needs.

Students and community groups have been active on Learning Journeys at Kim Chuan Depot. Since introducing the Adopt-a-Station/Interchange project in 2014, over 1,500 students from more than 30 schools have become our ambassadors to serve the community while upholding themselves as gracious commuters. More community engagements are being planned around existing stations and along the TEL in the coming year.

Appreciation

Our appreciation goes to Mr Koh Yong Guan, who stepped down as Chairman in July 2017 after 11 years on the SMRT Board. We welcome Mr Seah Moon Ming as our new Chairman and look forward to his stewardship with the Board and Management as we forge ahead to the future.

I would like to thank my Management and staff for their incredible teamwork and dedication as they commit each day to do their best in providing safe, reliable and comfortable journeys for all our commuters. As our network expands to provide better accessibility and older lines are renewed to ensure higher reliability, we are confident that the quality of our public transport services will continue to improve. We appreciate the support and understanding of our commuters as we work through these many initiatives to bring about higher operational and service excellence.

Desmond Kuek
President & Group Chief Executive Officer