This was reported by Hong Kong independent investigative news agency, Factwire, which earlier today reported that 35 of SMRT’s trains were quietly shipped back to Qingdao last month due to cracks and other defects.
Factwire reported that multiple sources from mainland China and Singapore have confirmed to that problems have been found with C151A trains since they began service in 2011.
The news agency reported its sources as saying that in December 2011, serious malfunctions occurred on the SMRT’s North-South Line, which the SMRT suspected were caused by C151A trains.
It reported that a subcontractor responsible for supplying train components to CSR Qingdao Sifang admitted that after the malfunctions, SMRT significantly reduced the frequency of C151A trains and asked to delay payment for extra trains of the same series, greatly impacting the subcontractor’s cash flow.
Factwire reported that the predecessor to the C151A, which is the C151, has been used by the SMRT since 1987 without experiencing cracks even though the two models share similar designs.
It reported that C151 sources in China revealed some of the C151A trains manufactured by CSR Sifang were found to have impurities in their aluminium train car bodies, and that was a very likely cause of the cracks now found in the trains.
Factwire reported that a former SMRT worker admitted that the C151A train model had quality issues in its propulsion system, engine system, and other components, and quoted the SMRT worker as saying: “It’s not a complete failure you know, it’s [that] the [train’s] life is so much shorter, maybe about half [of the normal lifespan]. [For instance], if normal trains can [run for] one million km, but this one can only do 500,000km.”
The staff was also reported to have said that that Kawasaki and Qingdao Sifang had been providing “after sale service” for the trains and sending staff to Singapore to “troubleshoot”, and that “[Chinese-made trains] are very cheap. How can you have [something] that is very good and pay a very cheap price? So this is [the] trade-off.”
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, the LTA, and CRRC Corporation Limited – CSR Qingdao Sifang’s parent company – did not respond to requests for comment.