SMRT was yesterday hit with a S$1.6mil (RM4mil) fine by the Land Transport Authority (LTA), over four train service disruptions
Taken together, it is the second highest fine meted out by the authority on a rail operator after the S$2mil (RM5.1mil) incurred, also by SMRT, for two massive breakdowns in December 2011. The Singapore-listed firm was fined S$400,000 (RM1.02mil) and S$900,000 (RM2.3mil) for two “serious safety breaches” that occurred on Oct 9 last year and Jan 22 this year respectively.
In these cases, SMRT trains on the East West Line, which were driven manually, damaged a track point after they failed to stop at a red signal light. This led to service disruptions of more than an hour on both occasions.
On top of the drivers failing to stop, the SMRT operations control centre was also slow to respond and hence unable to prevent the trains from damaging the tracks, added the LTA.
SMRT was also fined S$200,000 (RM511,854) and S$100,000 (RM255,933) for disruptions in January and May this year respectively. Both occurred on the North South Line, and were caused by human error.
Rival SBS Transit, which runs a smaller rail network, fared better.
It has to pay a S$50,000 (RM127,968) fine for a disruption on March 21 that was caused by staff carrying out maintenance works, which resulted in a power trip.
LTA group director for public transport Yeo Teck Guan said all five incidents were “fully preventable if the operators had exercised due diligence and vigilance”.
The authority will scrutinise the operators’ training regimes more closely, and carry out more checks and audits, he added.
The fines, it seems, would hit SMRT where it hurts most.
Its rail business reported just S$5.5mil (RM14.07mil) in operating profit in its latest financial year, a sharp drop from S$65.1mil (RM166.6mil) the year before due to higher operating costs.
Its overall net earnings are at an 11-year low of S$61.9mil (RM158.4mil).
SMRT spokesman Patrick Nathan said it has tightened its operating procedures and enhanced its training regimes.
This includes requiring train drivers to double-check every instruction when driving in manual mode, he said.
SBS Transit spokesman Tammy Tan said it has tightened its processes “to ensure that such a lapse is not repeated”.
The fines will be donated to the Public Transport Fund to help the needy with transport fares.
Dr Park Byung Joon, who teaches urban transport management at SIM University, said complacency could have been a factor behind the human errors. — The Singapore Straits Times / Asia News Network