In the wake of the two train service disruptions last December, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong called for a Committee of Inquiry (COI).
The inquiry, which began on April 16 and lasted six weeks, was chaired by Chief District Judge Tan Siong Thye, Nanyang Technological University's Professor Lim Mong King and Director of Prisons Soh Wai Wah.
The COI concluded that there was a lack of communication and clarity on the responsibilities of the Land Transport Authority (LTA) and SMRT during the disruptions.
During the COI hearings, former chief executive Saw Phaik Hwa testified that SMRT had received instruction from LTA to resume the service as soon as possible after the disruption on Dec 15, rather than to suspend the service "for the whole night".
As a result, SMRT did not conduct a sufficiently thorough check. The incident on Dec17 could have been prevented if the faults had been detected.
But LTA staff said they decided to resume service that night because the relevant checks had been done.
The COI recommended an integrated land transport emergency plan as a solution.
The committee also noted that the lack of a response plan was reflected in the miscommunication between LTA and SMRT.
The National University of Singapore's transport researcher Dr Lee Der Horng was surprised that an integrated emergency plan did not exist and said this was an "oversight".
At present, there is an LTA public transport crisis management team, which has to convene within two hours of activation if there is a critical issue beyond the public transport operator's control.
Said Dr Lee: "Given that the train systems have been shown to be vulnerable, we must prepare for a land transport emergency plan."
Integrated emergency plans are in place in countries such as the US and Taiwan to prepare for threats such as natural and nuclear disasters.
He said: "While Singapore does not have such threats, an integrated land transport plan is important for man-made disasters such as the train service disruptions."
Such a plan will ensure that response strategies and the roles of the different stakeholders are clear in an emergency.
Since the Dec 15 and Dec 17 incidents, LTA and SMRT have been working together to implement measures to enhance the system's reliability and incident management.
Both parties will study the COI's findings and recommendations with a view to make further improvements.
The Minister for Transport will make a ministerial statement in Parliament when it sits on Monday to give the Government's response to the COI's report.
This article was first published in The New Paper.