SINGAPORE - Soon, commuters will be able to hold rail operators to an even higher standard of service.
A number of regulatory standards will be tightened further as a billion-dollar programme to repair and upgrade the rail system goes into full swing, with additional trains being injected into the network as well.
The Land Transport Authority (LTA) said yesterday that delays and disruptions will be measured in more stringent ways. This will reflect more accurately what commuters feel on the ground.
Most significantly, any service degradation that leads to slower rides along a line will be monitored. If the problem is prolonged for more than an hour, the operator can be fined.
This is on top of a relatively new standard that allows no more than one major disruption (defined as a delay of more than 30 minutes) in a space of four weeks.
Further, delays will be measured on an end-to-end journey basis, rather than per station.
Standards will be raised for station amenities such as lifts, escalators and air-conditioning.
Security-related standards will be introduced too, to ensure video surveillance systems on trains and at stations and depots are in good working order, said the LTA.
Most of these changes will come into effect from the second quarter of this year.
From next year, train service frequency will increase substantially, to coincide with the completion of resignalling works on the North-South Line.
Service intervals during morning peak hours will be narrowed to 100 seconds, from 120 seconds currently.
Resignalling of the East-West Line will be completed in 2018. Then, morning peak intervals on the route will come to 110 seconds - slightly more than for the North-South Line, because of a technical constraint at the Pasir Ris station.
Intervals on the North-East Line will be 120 seconds, down from 160 seconds now.
And Circle Line trains will run as often as once every 160 seconds, compared with 210 seconds currently.
LTA chief executive Chew Men Leong said the network's overall capacity will increase by 25 per cent as a result. This, he said, would outpace the expected growth in train ridership.
"We've been working very hard to improve the system in recent years," he said.
"Now we are ensuring that service standards are raised, so commuters can enjoy shorter waiting times, as well as faster, safer and more comfortable journeys."
Commuters have welcomed the news. Equity broker Manoj Kumar, 44, who relies on the East- West Line to travel between home and office, said: "It's a good move, but let's make sure it's not all talk."
He acknowledged that "things had already begun to improve" in recent months.
Service standards were last raised just a year ago, in January 2014. A month later, the maximum fine that the regulator could impose on operators for service lapses was increased as well.
Previously, the fine was capped at $1 million; now, it can come to as much as 10 per cent of the annual fare revenue of a rail line. For a fairly short one such as the North-East Line, that could translate into well over $10 million.
Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew said in a Facebook post yesterday that the joint effort by the LTA and public transport operators "will result in a better transport system in the coming years".
This article was first published on January 16, 2015.
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