PAP’s U-turn Policy: Nationalized train system for Singapore’s new Downtown Line

Unlike the other train lines, Singapore’s latest train line’s assets will be fully owned by the Land Transport Authority(LTA). SBS Transit will only play the role of an operator for Downtown Line(DTL), responsible only for the management of the day to day operations. All trains will bear the LTA logo and according to the Singapore state media ChannelNewsAsia, “the regulator(LTA) directly owns all rail operating assets”. This is the first time the PAP government nationalized a part of the public service, ever since they first started selling off the Singapore power stations and other public service entities after the end of Lee Kuan Yew’s ruling in 1991.


According to insiders, there have been large resistance among the PAP cadres against the SBS and SMRT’s way of nationalizing public transport operation losses for Singaporeans and privatizing profits for their investors. In numerous closed-door discussions, strong objections have been raised by several senior PAP members over Minister Lui Tuck Yew’s approval of $1.1 billion bus service schemes for SBS and SMRT. According to WikiTemasek’s sources, some members threatened resignation in the heated internal discussions. It is not known how these could have effected in the reversal of the stance adopted by the PAP government recently.


Now that the LTA owns every single material in DTL, it is expected that the fare price from SBS Transit to be a lot cheaper given that they were given only a human-resource management role. However we could not rule out that the PAP government wants to profit from Singapore commuters in the name of “self-sustainability” for the nationalized train network.


DTL will be opened in 3 stages on a bi-yearly basis from 2013. Train service will run across the island between Bukit Panjang and Expo by 2016. In the meantime, properties around the marked stations have been rising even before the first puddle of soil has been dug.


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