UPDATE 1-Singapore's SMRT shares soar on hopes of rail system reform

(Recasts with share price rise)

SINGAPORE, Dec 4 (Reuters) - Rail operator SMRT Corporation Ltd shares approached six-month highs on Friday after the Straits Times newspaper quoted a minister saying the government should be ready to take over the city-state’s privately run metro service.

Singapore’s Mass Rapid Transit rail system, run by SMRT and SBS Transit Ltd, have suffered a series of breakdowns in recent years, prompting public outcry.

Khaw, who assumed the position in October, has been piling pressure on the two rail operators to up their game while pleading with commuters for patience.

Shares in SMRT, Singapore’s main rail operator, rose as much as 6.4 percent to a near six-month high of S$1.575 ($1.13), on hopes that reform could help its loss-making rail business.

SBS Transit shares gained 1.3 percent to a 10-month high of S$1.95. ($1 = 1.3964 Singapore dollars) (Reporting by Rodney Joyce and Rujun Shen; Editing by Stephen Coates)