Saturday, November 18, 2017

Singapore MRT Breakdowns And Train Sentiments


Trains: Old and New

The Singapore Mass Rapid Transport (SMRT) woes have brought about a lot of heartaches for commuters, especially those who need to use the trains to go to work. It is serious and an unpleasant state of affairs. 

Singaporeans have always been encouraged to use public transport, the train, the bus or the taxi (hired car).  I am one of those lucky ones who can still afford a car but wanted to abandon it last year. To keep the car now would be a better option. 

Trains, the many different types that exist throughout the years, have always been a choice for many commuters, especially those who have to travel many miles to reach their destination. Hopefully the situation improves.
Elvis Presley: Frankfurt Special: One of the best train songs and a Presley classic. From his movie, G.I.Blues. Video by: Kevin Allen.

The earlier trains of yesteryear have always been large, bulky, long and noisy but today, in the 21st Century, the new electronic trains are quiet and clean, whipping around like grass snakes, fast and efficient. 

I remember in the 1960's taking an old mechanical train from the station at Tanjong Pagar, Singapore to a town in Malaya. Cannot remember but it could be Butterworth, Penang. It was a dreadful trip and one I wish never to remember. More so it was the condition in the train rather than the ride.  

Other train trips in Taipeh (Taiwan) and Shanghai (China), using the mass transit system were wonderful experiences. England, Canada and Europe trains were excellent too. These trains consisted of both the older train type or locomotives and the present rapid transit system.

Train Songs: Old and New

Songs about trains too are in the hundreds, perhaps more. These songs would be ones where trains are either mentioned in the titles or in the lyrics and many of them would have been written a long time ago. There is a list of nearly every train song on Wikipedia
From Abalinga Mail by Slim Dusty to Zion Train by Bob Marley, the titles are varied and an eye-opener for those who love this mode of transport and love the usual chug-a-chug-chug musical rhythm.

The titles that came off my head are not too many nor are they in order, so here goes:

Chatanooga Choo Choo - Ray Charles
Freight Train - Bob Dylan and many others
Mystery Train - Elvis Presley

Frankfurt Special - Elvis Presley
(Hear That Whistle Blow) 500 Miles - The Seekers
The Lightning Express - Everly Brothers

Morning Train (9 to 5) - Sheena Easton
Morningtown Ride - The Seekers
Rambling Man - Del Shannon

Everly Brothers 'The Lightning Express': another classic hit that expresses sadness and pain. Video by:  johnsonchusc.

Rockin' On The Railroad - Chuck Berry
Sentimental Journey - Les Brown
Wabash Cannonball - Chet Atkins

Folsom Prison Blues -Johnny Cash
Choo Choo Train - Children's Song
She'll Be Comin' Round The Mountain When She Comes - Pete Seeger

Take it easier. Check out these songs and hope for the trains to run better soonest.

Any comment, please? About trains songs or train disruptions?

Images: Google
YouTube: Elvis Presley, Everly Brothers.



This is one sector where an expat CEO is most necessary. But those in charge failed to consider and instead are willing to pay lots of money for expat CEO's in other service sectors like Finance, Shipping and IT.


The song ONE WAY TICKET comes to mind. My fav train song is The Lightning Express though. I get a lump in my throat each time I listen to it.

A pity that your train ride from Tanjong Pagar to a town in Malaysia was dreadful. Fortunately, the train rides I've experienced thus far in various countries had largely been comfortable and pleasant.


There are anger and frustration over these frequent breakdowns and people will grab for any reason to vent their feelings. The weird/lame excuses have not helped.

I must say that the people are spoilt with modern facilities and should think back when there were no trains. Yes, people got around somehow.

The other factor that has taxed the transport system has been the rapid expansion of the population. Somethin that was not factored into the initial projections.

For that, you can blame the government.

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

The reason the trains run well in Taiwan (according to a CNA News report by Victoria Jen) is because it has a culture of responsibility and DEDICATED people who know the trains well. The heads in charge, if I have not misinterpreted the news piece, has been around long enough with the system to know it thoroughly well.

I have taken these trains while in Taiwan. Very good rides, no hitches during my stay in the city of Taipeh and polite young people who stand up for you when they feel you need a seat.


That is very true. In any organisation, the type of employees and their working attitude tells a lot about the company. Our MRT system especially SMRT needs a total overhaul in all aspects.

Unless the top Management has identified the weak spots whether in the assets, manpower etc. I foresee there is no end to the current situation.


Hi Andy, nice to hear from you.

Yes, there are tons of running commentaries on the trains. But if the trains are mechanical, breakdowns are to be expected from time to time.

Perhaps the frequency of mechanical failures could by design or divine.

trei3000 (YouTube) said...

Very enjoyable video of Elvis Presley singing FRANKFURT SPECIAL from his G.I. BLUES movie, which is definitely for me, a favourite, as you can notice in my channel background and other video comments. Elvis' lip syncing is evident when his mouth moves to a part where his voice is not active. Beautiful and bright colour with your video, though I have no idea how you make it that way. What I know is that it is clear and sharp, easy on the eyes.

so saidh halla said...

The Lightning Express:

Love this song my husband would sing it to our son when he was a baby, wouldn't sleep unless the song was sung... my daughter hates it, makes her cry.

Anonymous said...

Hi Andy,

The Yardbirds version of Train Kept A Rollin' is a personal facvourite train song.

I didn't know there was a problem with the trains. I only caught the train once during my recent stay in Singapore and that went alright. Lucky I suppose.




Dear Andy,
Just to add to your list of train songs, have you heard "Catch That Train" by John Mayall on his 1960s album, "The Blues Alone"? It is available on YouTube and consists of Mayall playing harmonica against an accompaniment supplied by a real train!

Johnny Cash also did "Train of Love" for Sun Records in the 1950s and an entire album called "Ride This Train" which was one of my favourites when I bought it in 1964 at Changi. There - I managed to slip Singapore in at the end.

Good wishes, Allan.

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Thank you all for writing in. Apologies for not publishing the letters earlier as I am in the South of Perth Australia, and have difficulty with Internet connections.

Lovely selections and strong comments by all of you to support my posting.


A song that scouts and guides sing in rounds is 'I've been working on the railroad'.

As a retiree, I have a choice in not taking our trains --I don't like being underground. The times when I had to go to NUH and it's not peak hours, the priority seats are taken by the 'young ones' who turn a blind eye even when I am standing right before them.

anonymous said...

Hitchcock Railway, written by Donald (duck) Dunn..remember him..with Cropper?
It takes a lot to laugh, takes a train to cry (Blonde on Blonde -Dylan)
Long Train running (doobies)
Hear My Train A Coming (Jimi)
The last train to Clarksville ( Boyce and Hart/Monkees),
Last Train Home (Pat Metheny),
Rock Island line (Leadbelly, Lonnie Donegan),
Peace Train (Cat)
Southbound Train (Broonzy),
Train, Train (jeff beck -rough & ready LP)
Two Trains Running (Butterfield Blues Band)
Waterloo Station (kinks).

As for regularity of breakdowns? well, I would say, China is where like Andy says, a sense of responsibility. and in "progressive" societies where there is the "(psst, dirty word... Union)..." ..things take months to get done and breaks down all the time... like weekly.

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Wow, that's an impressive list. Thank you anonymous for the train-song titles and comment on my take on breakdowns.

And a big thank you to all the others who wrote in. Perhaps a little nudging and a little comment here and there will tell the authorities, "Hey, we hear you! But you listen to us too!"

matt said...

I agree with my old buddy Horace Wee, and Andy too,..
how well the train runs, really depends on those at the top. eg. in a society where the culture is to sell gas, or where the dudes at the top never took the train or bus to work every day, they don't give a hoot if commuters are stranded.
same for the bicycle lanes. we have them here, and they are the safest in the land. but in other provinces, the light rail service is pathetic or non-existent. another province where most ppl drive their BMW even if they need to buy a packet of cigarette or carton of milk from the corner store, cycling along the bicycle lane is a hazard as drivers on mobile are not pulled over by the authorites.
whiners are pathetic creatures of society too, in that they will whine at the bus-stop during a union imposed strike , but as soon as the bus arrives, they embark smilingly, "hello, how is your day, dear???"
but worst of all , is as one of the mandarin movie openers point out so profoundly, "the world is made a miserable place by greed ,power, coercion, tyranny,..but there is one most deadly sins unlisted... INDIFFERENCE !
so true. in my neighbourhood, we look out for each other, our kids , elderly,etc can safely walk home late at night. but in other neighbourhoods across this great land of ours, they don't even dare walk across the street to pick up their mail in broad-day light. in fact, they don't even smile or know who lives next door meven after living their for doggone years.
All in all, the change must come from the first person (I)... as yet another wise chinese saying, I heard while watching my current favourite mandarin period drama,

"to conquer the world, first win the hearts of the common people."

... such as, give them what they like most, loud guitar music in total imbroglia... which is exactly what I do best,LMAO