TRADING in Singapore MRT Corp shares began on July 26, making it the world’s first modern metro operator to be publicly listed. When the offer closed on July 25 there were 110671 applications amounting to 1·08 billion shares for the 209·5 million shares available to the public. The share price was set at S$0·61.

SMRT Corp President Kwek Siew Jin said the success of the flotation was ’an excellent response, but not surprising. Everyone in Singapore, young or old, at one point or another, would have commuted with us and known our reliability and commitment to service.’ A placement to institutional investors comprising 270 million shares was fully subscribed too.

Shares were also made available for staff, who were told by Kwek that the company ’has reached a stage of maturity and profitability, enough for people to put their trust as well as their money in it.’ The 83 km network now has 48 stations, and the branch to Changi Airport is due to open next year. As Singapore heads towards competitive provision of public transport, SMRT is well placed to face its future rivals, such as Singapore Bus Services which has been chosen as operator of the 20 km Northeast line to Punggol due to open in 2002.

In its new guise as a listed company, SMRT must meet performance standards which include at least 96% of trains departing within 2min of schedule. Any breakdown of service will attract fines that could reach S$1m under a penalty regime introduced by the Land Transport Authority.