(NOTE: The LTA has issued a statement saying the number of trains shipped back to China for repairs is 26.)
35 China-made MRT trains produced for SMRT have allegedly been recalled and shipped back to China in a hush-hush job for repair and replacement due to cracks in the carriage bodies and other structural components.
This was reported by Hong Kong news agency, Factwire, which touts itself as an investigative news agency and was started last year after raising about S$120,000 through crowd-funding.
The defective trains are said to belong to the SMRT’s C151A series.
The contract for building the trains was awarded in May 2009 to Japan’s Kawasaki Heavy Industries, which was was responsible for overseeing the project, designing and manufacturing the train bogies, and buying the major train components, and Chinese firm CSR Qingdao Sifang, which was tasked with manufacturing other parts of the train car body, assembling the trains, and conducting factory tests.
Factwire reported that SMRT has shipped the defective trains back to mainland China for replacement and repair.
It reported that the defective trains were stored at the Bishan Depot before they were shipped.
Reporters from Factwire allegedly witnessed two train cars wrapped in green covering being moved out of the depot on June 12 at about 1am.
Factwire says that at approximately 3am, the two train cars arrived at Jurong Port, and its reporters used a drone camera and saw that six train cars had already been placed in one corner of the port.
Factwire alleges that its reporters saw the trains covered with green coverings with “E27” printed on it – the same marking seen on the covering of the trains in Singapore.
It said that the CSR Qingdao Sifang staff confirmed that the trains have arrived at the factory in Qingdao on 25 June.
Factwire reported that multiple sources from mainland China and Singapore confirmed that problems have been found with C151A trains since they began service in 2011.
Apparently, the bid by Kawasaki and CSR Qingdao Sifang was the second lowest bid – Singapore authorities opted for this over the lowest bid by a South Korean company because product quality was an important factor.
Factwire reported that SMRT, the LTA, and CRRC Corporation Limited – CSR Qingdao Sifang’s parent company – did not respond to requests for comment.
The news agency says it contacted Kawasaki Heavy Industries’ Singapore branch, responsible for overseeing the C151A project and in a telephone conversation lasting more than 10 minutes, the company’s rolling stock manager Ken Nishiyama did not deny the flaws in the C151A trains and their recall back to Qingdao for replacement, and twice asked the reporter: “How do you know [about] the project?”
Factwire says that when the reporter asked why the C151A trains had quality issues and whether manufacturer CSR Sifang should bear responsibility, Nishiyama repeatedly stressed: “We cannot make any comment on the project, the progress, the issue, whether there is [a] programme or no programme.”