You buy a handphone from a phone company. Once you try using the phone, you realise some parts are spoilt. Use a while longer and more parts are spoilt. Would you still go back to the same phone company if you need a new handphone?
It appears that LTA executives would.
Despite knowing that trains purchased from Kawasaki-Qingdao Sifang were defective and problematic from 2011 all the way to 2013, the LTA still went ahead and ordered 91 trains from the same company-joint venture in May 2014.
The 91 driver-less trains will be used on the new Thomson-East Coast Line.
These trains only have 4-carriages and won’t be the same as the C151A trains.
Kawasaki will design the trains, while CSR Qingdao Sifang will be responsible for producing the aluminium alloy bodyshells and final assembly of the vehicles.
They are expected to delivered to Singapore between 2018 and 2021.
In the light of the recent expose on the LTA-SMRT hush-hush return of defective trains to China for repair, the LTA revealed more about the problems and when they were discovered:
2011: “There was an incident where the train battery housing cover lid flew open due to a build-up of gases on one train”
2011: “Incidents on cracks of the draughtscreen on five trains were also discovered.”
2013: “A routine inspection of the trains in July 2013 found hairline cracks on the surface of the car-body bolster. Laboratory tests showed that these hairline cracks were due to localised impurity in the aluminium car-body material that occurred during the manufacturing process.”
2014: “Due to the nature of the defect, the most effective way of addressing it is to replace the entire car-body shell. As the trains were under warranty, we required the contractor to replace the entire car body shell. Hence, since July 2014, the affected trains have been progressively sent back to the factory for rectification works. The costs of the shipping are borne by the contractor.”
Does “localised impurity in the aluminium car-body” make you worried? It should because it shows the trains were made with contaminated metal and the extent of this was so problematic the trains had to be returned so they could be re-shelled!
In spite of all these problems, the LTA still found it fit to dump S$749 million on the laps of Kawasaki-Qingdao Sifang in May 2014.
So if there are any problems on the trains, will they take 7 years to repair just like the defective C151A trains? (the LTA has managed to negotiate this repair period down to 3 years from the original 7 years proposed by Qingdao Sifang).
And if this happens again , is the LTA going to get new trains to replace the old trains… by placing a new order with the same manufacturer that sold us the defective ones in the first place?