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Focus on people, not just numbers, in rail reliability

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Commuters in Singapore will be among the first to agree that there is a disconnect between rail reliability statistics and what they experience on the ground.

Latest figures, for example, show that reliability has improved by three times since 2015.

The MRT network achieved 393,000 train-km between delays in the first half of this year. In 2015, it was 133,000 train-km.

So, what gives? Were the numbers wrong? Are commuters here just too intolerant? Or was it all the doing of the media, out to sensationalise breakdowns?

A closer look at the numbers themselves may yield some answers.

Singapore's MRT lines in operation total around 170km. The North-South and East-West lines - the oldest here - make up just over half of the network.

But the two lines account for close to two-thirds of the daily MRT ridership of 3.1 million. This is because these lines serve the most built-up areas of the island. Their rolling stock consists of six-car trains, versus three-car trains in two out of the three other lines.

Rail operators can do a lot more to ease the pain when there is a delay or breakdown, says the writer. Most of it lies in effective communication. Today, it is evident that commuters do not have sufficient information given in a timely manner for them to decide whether to wait out a delay or seek another travel option. ST FILE PHOTO

Alas, the two older lines are more prone to glitches too.

From 2015 to the first half of this year, they were responsible for 22 out of 37 major breakdowns (those exceeding 30 minutes). That is about 60 per........

© The Straits Times