A major disruption in 24 years is understand​able – and forgivable

Dear Straits Times,

I refer to the 20 Dec 2011 letter by Mr Samson Guanglin Lee.

Mr Lee points to train disruptions in Japan and Spain to justify why a major breakdown in 24 years of SMRT operations is understandable and forgivable. SMRT has been operating only two lines for much of the past 24 years with the Circle Line being added only recently. Japan and Spain on the other hand, have been operating many more lines that stretch for many more kilometres for many more years. All else being equal, operating fewer lines that stretch for fewer kilometres for fewer number of years will of course yield fewer breakdowns. Similarly, breakdowns due to earthquakes is understandable compared to breakdowns due to poor maintenance. If all that Mr Lee is saying is that there is no country with zero major breakdowns, then he is as good as not saying anything useful. He is better off comparing the breakdown rates per line, per km while factoring in the age of the lines and the nature of the breakdowns too.

He contrasts the public calm in Japan and Spain to the anger and online rants in Singapore to say that Singaporeans have been pampered and have grown intolerant. Mr Lee should not forget that the Japanese and the Spanish governments do not claim they have the best or one of the best train services in the world ever so often. On the other hand, since our government makes no qualms about making those claims, it should expect brick bats when it falls short of those claims.

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