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Written Reply by Minister for Transport Khaw Boon Wan to Parliamentary Question on Sufficient Workers Involved in Preventive Maintenance of MRT Lines

08 Jul 2019 In Parliament

Mr Melvin Yong Yik Chye asked the Minister for Transport

a.     whether there are sufficient workers currently at the two rail operators to carry out preventive maintenance of the MRT lines effectively; and

b.     what are the plans by the Ministry to ensure that there are adequate skilled technical workers for rail maintenance in view of the introduction and opening of new MRT lines. 

Reply by Minister for Transport Khaw Boon Wan:

1.     Effective and timely maintenance is necessary to ensure a reliable MRT service. Besides hardware investments, we also require a skilled maintenance workforce. Today, our rail operators deploy more than 50% of their headcount, or more than 4,000 staff, to maintenance and engineering. Thanks to their tireless efforts, our MRT service has stabilised, with a reliability level comparable to that of Taipei Metro and Hong Kong MTR.

2.     We need to maintain this staffing level for existing MRT lines. But as our MRT network is still expanding, we work closely with the rail operators and the National Transport Workers’ Union (NTWU), to continuously upskill and reskill existing workers, and to attract a healthy pipeline of new workers.

3.     In 2016, LTA launched the $12.5 million Public Transport Manpower Development Fund, or PTMDF in short, to attract, develop, and retain skilled workers in the public transport industry. Under the PTMDF, we introduced Rail Industry Training Grants to cofund courses for rail technicians and engineers. The PTMDF also co-funds the Public Transport Study Awards offered to prospective ITE, polytechnic, and university students keen to embark on a technical career with the rail operators. 

4.     In addition, we also collaborate with Workforce Singapore and SkillsFuture Singapore on wider initiatives to enhance the capabilities of public transport workers. This includes the Skills Framework for Public Transport to define a career development roadmap and support competency-based training for public transport workers. Together with Workforce Singapore, we also offer Professional Conversion Programmes to help mid-career workers make the switch into the public transport industry.  

5.     We will continue to engage the stakeholders to see how we can further deepen and widen efforts in this area.