Paving the Way for Better Journeys – Lucky Draw Winners

SMRT is renewing the North-South and East-West Lines (NSEWL), Singapore’s oldest, longest and most heavily utilised MRT lines. The multi-year, multi-project efforts underline SMRT’s commitment to serve our commuters better.

Last October, SMRT published Paving the Way for Better Journeys: Edition 2 to inform residents living along the North-South Line of our rail transformation efforts and benefits. These include smoother rides arising from sleeper replacement, shorter waiting times from new signalling systems, third rail replacement which boost network resilience and reliability, and higher train frequency as more trains are added into the network progressively.
Better Journeys
Survey Result
Nearly 90% of survey respondents could see the efforts SMRT put in to improve their travel experience.


Thank you for your feedback and support. We take your comments seriously, and will continue our rail renewal efforts to provide you with better journeys.

The following winners have won an exclusive stored-value card, and will receive an email from us shortly.


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A peak into lessons learnt from Singapore Rail Transport Conference


Attended by more than 20 international railway experts, the inaugural Singapore Rail Transport Conference (SRTC) held in November 2016 provided a platform for sharing and potential collaboration in the area of technology development and innovation among operators of some of the world’s busiest metro lines. SMRT gained valuable insights as we strive to enhance rail performance and reliability.

The conference also provided us with an opportunity where we could benchmark ourselves against regional transport providers like Hong Kong’s Mass Transit Railway (MTR). Here are some key learning points shared by two of our guest speakers.

“Not everything needs to be in-house”

Professor Alfred Huan, Chairman, SMRT Technical Advisory Panel stated that SMRT has taken on “the very ambitious task and programme to upgrade its own engineering capabilities”. He added that this includes the company’s efforts to digitise data and adopt digital technology to coordinate our operations and maintenance.

Professor Huan, who is also the Executive Director of the Institute of High Performance Computing at A*STAR pointed out that as SMRT continually builds up its network of expertise, “not everything needs to be in-house”.

“Instead SMRT can tap on expertise within Singapore’s good eco-system of universities, A*STAR, and other research organisations”, said Huan, who was also a guest speaker at the conference.

“The important thing for SMRT is to be able to understand how to integrate all the different expertise around to promote its own objectives.”

Hong Kong MTR Vs SMRT – Adopting industry best practices

Speaking to reporters on technology advancement on the side lines of the event, Professor Lee Kang Kuen, Professor for Transportation at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, said both Hong Kong MTR and SMRT have adopted continuous condition monitoring. This is currently seen as one of the best practices in the industry.

“I can see in Singapore, SMRT is adopting the same drive as MTR in really going along with the industry best practises. With all these on-going efforts, there will be a quantum leap in reliability improvements,” he added.

Hong Kong MTR’s experience achieving a high MKBF

The HKMTR reached 520,000 mean-kilometres between failure (MKBF) in the first quarter of 2016 while SMRT aspires to achieve 400,000 MKBF by 2018.

Professor Lee shared his confidence that SMRT would be able to achieve its rail reliability targets by improving from our experiences and lessons learnt in our 30 year history.

“MTR started operations back in 1979, so it is actually about 10 years prior to SMRT. MTR has improved through lessons learnt over the years. For each lesson learnt we adopted improvement measures. This is how excellence can be built up. I’m sure that with the same approach being adopted by SMRT that excellence can be achieved here,” he said.

“Exchange of experiences not “import”

When asked by a reporter what aspects of the HKMTR could be imported to Singapore, Professor Lee pointed out that each network has its own features, and it is important to share experiences and not “import”.

The professor, who has over 40 years’ experience in railway Operations and Maintenance (O&M), projects and consultancy, also stressed the importance of having these sharing sessions regularly.

“I am actually very delighted that this (the conference) has been done quite well where member railways get to share their experience so other members will not repeat what has gone wrong,” he said.

SMRT CEO Desmond Kuek at HR Summit 2016

SMRT President & Group CEO Desmond Kuek gave an exclusive interview in the plenary session of the 2016 HR Summit on 17 May. The interview was facilitated by Channel NewsAsia newscaster Steve Lai, and attended by close to 1,000 participants. For the first time ever, members of the public were given the opportunity to pose questions directly to Mr Desmond Kuek and gain greater insight to the inner workings of SMRT.

SMRT CEO Desmond Kuek at HR Summit

Here are some highlights from the interview with Mr Kuek:

When asked about his leadership dictum, “You either lead, follow, or get out of the way – but you never stand still” and what it means to him –

Mr Kuek shared that he first adopted the leadership dictum when he was with the Singapore Armed Forces to inspire his people to take the initiative and make changes that can lead to a meaningful difference, instead of just accepting the status quo. There is always an opportunity to make a difference, whether one is leading or following another’s lead. Failing to do so would only render one increasingly irrelevant and ineffective.

He continued to apply this leadership mantra when he moved on to lead the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources, and also currently in SMRT where we are constantly pushing the boundaries and driving for excellence.

When asked about how he ensures that staff morale is maintained amidst growing public dissent over the MRT system –

Mr Kuek confessed that there were numerous challenges and issues that had to be addressed when he first joined SMRT. The major train disruptions of December 2011 shook public confidence and dragged down the company’s reputation.  Staff morale was low, and some staff shared that they were embarrassed to wear their uniforms because of public dissent. Compounding these difficulties was the need to engage multiple stakeholders: the public and commuters, shareholders, regulators, business partners, and also SMRT’s own employees.

Against this formidable backdrop of challenges, Mr Kuek chose to place his key focus squarely on SMRT’s employees as they are the cornerstone to any improvements to be made. This meant placing a sharp focus on leading and engaging employees well, believing that this would translate to superior workforce health and operational performance. This would in turn inspire stronger commitment to create shareholder value and a positive customer experience.

Thus, Mr Kuek invested much time and effort in engaging ground staff, understanding their concerns, and building trust.  For instance, one of the first things he did upon joining SMRT was to send an email to all staff asking ‘What are you thinking?”. He was pleasantly surprised to see hundreds of employees coming forward with their thoughts and ideas to make the company better. In addition, various initiatives were put in place to enhance engagement and strengthen open communication. He is heartened that employees appreciate these efforts, as reflected in SMRT’s sustainable engagement score of 86% in the organisational climate survey conducted by Towers Watson. This places the company on par with global best-in-class standards.


When asked about how he reconciles SMRT’s role in providing an essential public service while being a publicly listed company whose profit margins are answerable to the shareholders –

Mr Kuek frankly acknowledged that it is not an easy task to provide a public service while remaining answerable to shareholders – but it is not impossible. He shared that SMRT comprises not just Trains and Buses, but also a commercial team which does an excellent job of managing the retail and advertising businesses.

He further revealed that that most of his energies are devoted to improving rail reliability instead of the commercial business because of the urgent need to renew and upgrade the North-South and East-West Lines, Singapore’s oldest, longest and most heavily utilised MRT lines. Much work is being done to reconstruct the biggest arterial lines while keeping the trains running during the day – akin to conducting surgery on a patient who is awake and complaining about the pain.

Despite recent high-profile train breakdowns in the past year, Mr Kuek shared that rail reliability has improved. SMRT’s mean distance travelled between delays of more than 5 minutes has improved around threefold, and the team is striving to bring down the frequency of breakdowns lasting more than 30 minutes. He concedes that SMRT has some way to go before catching up with the best metro in the world. Together with the rest of SMRT, he takes it as a personal and organisational challenge to improve rail reliability standards to be the best in the world.

SMRT CEO Desmond Kuek Powering SMRT Transformation and Culture Change

Image courtesy of HR Summit 2016

SMRT CEO Desmond Kuek at HR Summit with Steve Lai.JPG

Image courtesy of Steve Lai (Source: Instagram)