Why are MRT trains being shipped back to manufacturer?

A few hairline cracks on the car-body - they are not structural cracks and are not safety-critical.

Boon Lay MRT 4

Why are MRT trains being shipped back to their manufacturer?
Defects were found during a check of new trains manufactured by Kawasaki Heavy Industries and CSR Sifang in late 2013. There were a few hairline cracks on the car-body. These are superficial cracks (like those that show up on the walls of a new house). They are not structural cracks and are not safety-critical. No cracks were found on other train components after further inspections.

Are these defects dangerous?

The defects are hairline cracks (due to material impurity that occurred during manufacturing) and are not safety-critical. They do not affect the train’s systems, performance or passengers’ safety.

Are the trains still under warranty?

Yes, they are still under the manufacturer’s warranty. As such, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) is sending the trains in small batches back to the manufacturer for rectification. This is the appropriate thing to do to ensure we get the value for our money.

How can you be sure the trains are safe?
To ensure that trains are safe for passenger service, all defects are monitored closely. Monthly safety assessments are also conducted by LTA and the manufacturer before trains are put into service.

LTA also commissioned an external third party assessment in 2013 which had confirmed that the trains are safe to operate. As advised by the third party assessment, there has also been close monitoring of the crack propagation rate.

Why send back only one train at a time and not all 26 trains?
To ensure adequate train availability, only one train (six train cars) is sent back for repair at any one time. Starting next year, two trains will be sent back concurrently as we will have more new and upgraded trains to maintain train availability.

Why do the trains have to be sent back to China for repair?
The most effective way to address the defects is to replace the entire car-body shell. However, due to the lack of facilities and space for such replacement works of such nature at our Singapore train depots, the trains were sent back for repairs.

Why transport these trains in the dead of night?

Our trains are big and massive equipment. They are transported at night, with auxiliary police officers clearing the way ahead, to minimise obstruction and inconvenience to road users. Likewise, new trains that arrive in Singapore are transported on our roads at night.

Then why cover them up in green covers?

The green covers are to protect the trains, just as how we would bubble-wrap or enclose in boxes and styrofoam-pad electronic equipment and machinery that we want to transport overseas.

Will the repairs really take 7 years?
No, LTA has negotiated with the manufacturer and it will be able to speed up the process. Trains are being sent in batches and the rectification work will be completed in 2019. Each train car body replacement takes up to four months.

Was there really a case of a battery explosion?
The battery housing cover for one train undergoing testing before being put into service, flew open due to a build-up of gases. Immediate action was taken to improve the battery housing design for all affected trains.

What about shattered train windows?
No defects were found on train windows (the large ones behind passenger seats). However, cracks on draughtscreens (the glass panel at the side of a row of seats) were found on five trains. These were due to errors during the installation process which caused stress pressures on the glass, and unrelated to the incidents of hairline cracks on the trains.

For additional information: LTA's Facebook

Source: Ministry of Transport

This article is accurate as of Jul 2016.

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