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Baptism of fire

S. Iswaran took office as Singapore’s sixth Transport Minister on 15 May.


Last Friday, on 21 May, a signalling fault occurred on the Circle MRT Line, between Lorong Chuan and Caldecott stations. The alert was sounded at 5.26am, and it took operator SMRT almost two hours to fix the issue. Commuters between Lorong Chuan and Farrer Road stations had to endure at least 30 minutes’ additional travelling time during the morning peak period.

The crowd at Serangoon MRT Interchange. Credit: The Straits Times.
Alerts sent to the SG MRT Updates Telegram account.

It took only six days for S. Iswaran to experience his first train breakdown!


After his immediate predecessor Ong Ye Kung took over the portfolio on 27 July last year, it took all of 15 days for a train breakdown to occur. On 11 August, a train fault happened on the East West Line between Chinese Garden and Jurong East stations, adding 25 minutes of travelling time during the evening peak period. This was swiftly followed three days later by another train fault on the North South Line, between Jurong East and Bukit Batok stations, extending travelling time by 15 minutes.

Alerts sent to the SG MRT Updates Telegram account on 11 August 2020.

Before Ong, there was Khaw Boon Wan. He became Transport Minister on 1 October 2015. Twenty-five days later, on 26 October, a power failure on the North East Line led to a delay in the launch of trains for the morning service. Instead of service beginning at 5.37am, the southbound service started at 6.51am, while the northbound service rolled out at 7.20am. In all, 41,000 commuters were affected.

Credit: Today.

It’s getting customary for new Transport Ministers to quickly experience what it’s like to get a train breakdown on their watch. And the experience is coming sooner - from 25 days, to 15 days, to six days.


S. Iswaran’s successor, beware!