Sep 01, 2014

    One private MRT train, please

    SOME people want sports cars, diamonds or yachts moored off Sentosa Cove. I want my own MRT train.

    I wouldn't want it permanently, of course. For a start, parking would be a problem. And it might be an issue if I stopped my train outside my daughter's school in the morning.

    But a private MRT train would be most handy for essential occasions - such as birthdays, trips to the zoo and buying milk at the minimart.

    After Anglo-Chinese School (Independent) successfully chartered five SMRT trains to a school rugby final at the National Stadium on Tuesday, I have decided to adopt such a positive, eco-friendly initiative. So I have penned the following request to SMRT.

    Dear SMRT,

    First, let me stress that this is not a letter of complaint. I am not one of those rabid keyboard warriors who goes crazy every time an MRT train is five minutes late. (Six minutes late, however, and I will go ballistic.)

    On the contrary, I use your trains and buses every day. I like to mix things up. On a bus, I can sometimes get a seat. On a train, I haven't had a seat since 2006.

    But that is okay. Those triangle handle thingies help to keep me awake on bleary-eyed trips, kindly whacking me on the back of the head with every twist and turn.

    All in all, I am a loyal, dedicated SMRT traveller who has long championed your services, both on TV and within the pages of books and newspaper pages.

    So, if it is not too much trouble, I'd like my own MRT train, please.

    I want only one - I am not greedy - and I wouldn't want it during peak hours either (watching all those angry faces whizz by on station platforms might get a bit annoying after a while).

    The train would be just for the three of us - my wife, my daughter and me - but we need the room to stretch out after a long shopping trip, so please don't fill the other carriages with, er, what are they called? Oh yes, regular passengers.

    Taking my cue from other chartered trains recently, I'd like to make a few minor modifications to the carriages. Basically, I want to pimp my ride.

    Those LED panels - the ones that usually display information such as "next station, Bedok" - I would like them to say: "Neil is the best… Neil is the best… Neil is the best."

    If, for safety reasons, the LED panels must continue to highlight station names as we pass through, then the messages can say: "Next station, Bedok, but Neil is still the best… Neil is still the best."

    I also noticed in one or two of the media photos that drinks are permitted on a chartered train, which is a welcome privilege.

    So, a cocktail bar might be useful, perhaps even some strobe lights, a glitter ball and a couple of showgirls kicking their heels to The Doobie Brothers' classic, Long Train Running.

    Now, I acknowledge that the private chartering of what is essentially a public transport service may not please everyone - particularly those passengers on station platforms who will catch a glimpse of me whizzing past while dancing to The Doobie Brothers.

    The politics of envy can be a tricky business.

    Tinted windows are a possibility, but riding around in such an enormous vehicle with such windows could leave me looking like a drug dealer.

    So, I might need to rely on the carbon-footprint argument.

    I'll be fine as long as I can prove that the train's fuel consumption is less than the average, run-of-the-mill family car - something like a Chrysler limousine.

    Besides, my private train is probably in the public's interest. Just imagine how it will improve congestion on MRT platforms - when I take three whole people away.

    Also, my daughter - like all youngsters - can get a bit rowdy on trains. She has been known to occupy a corner seat, make loom bands and sing: "That's what makes you beautiful… ah-oh… that's what makes you beautiful."

    I'll be sparing other commuters a kid who sits on trains and occasionally blurts out: "Daddy, why don't you have hair like Harry Styles?"

    If anything, I am doing the general public a favour. Perhaps they should pay me for taking three people out of regular circulation.

    But really, honestly, there is no need to thank me.

    A private train for my shopping trips to FairPrice will be reward enough.

    That is sure to impress the ladies.

    Forget Ferraris and Porsches. I am coming with my own pimped-up MRT.