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Written Reply by Minister for Transport S Iswaran to Parliamentary Question on Update on Review of New Rail Financing Framework for Downtown MRT Line

05 Oct 2021 In Parliament

Mr Melvin Yong Yik Chye asked the Minister for Transport

a.     when will the ongoing review of the New Rail Financing Framework for the Downtown MRT Line be completed;

b.     whether the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has worsened the operating loss for the Downtown Line; and

c.     what will be the impact on the Downtown Line's rail reliability if there is a sustained and continued operating loss for the operator.

Reply by Minister for Transport S Iswaran

1.     The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the ridership for all our rail lines, including the Downtown Line. Even though ridership improved slightly in 2021, it remains significantly lower than pre-COVID levels. Nonetheless, the rail operators have largely preserved service capacity and headways to ensure that commuters can maintain safe distancing. Rail reliability also continues to be high, at more than one million train-km between failures. To ensure commuter safety, the operators have also incurred additional costs, for instance by stepping up cleaning efforts.

2.     The financial impact has been partly cushioned by Government relief measures such as the Jobs Support Scheme. I would like to thank all our public transport operators for working alongside us to manage the pandemic.

3.     The Downtown Line is on the first version of the New Rail Financing Framework, which has evolved over the years to take into account changes in the operating context. We are currently reviewing the arrangement for the Downtown Line, with a view to ensuring that the operator runs the line reliably with high productivity and that the line is sustainable. More details will be announced in due course, when the review is completed.