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19,000 commuters affected by morning delay on North-South MRT

About 19,000 commuters on the North-South MRT Line were affected by a train service delay during Monday morning's peak hour rush.

SINGAPORE: About 19,000 commuters on the North-South MRT Line were affected by a train service delay during Monday morning's peak hour rush.

At a news conference on Monday, public transport operator SMRT said a signal fault was detected around 8.10am which caused a southbound train to stall about 500 metres from Ang Mo Kio station.

This caused a train service delay from Sembawang to Marina Bay MRT stations.

At 8.25am, the stalled train had to be pushed towards Ang Mo Kio station by another train carrying passengers.

Some 1,800 commuters from the affected and rescue trains had to be detrained at the Ang Mo Kio station. This took some time as the platform was crowded and the doors of the affected train had to be opened manually - door by door.

Close to 9am, passengers in the affected train were detrained at the station while those in the second train got off only at around 9.15am.

Train services had already resumed through the station's middle track.

One passenger, Sin Ka Fai, said: "The announcement was not so clear because they just said the train will be delayed, to go to the platform, but didn't say what is the exact problem... I kept seeing people sending SMS... (while) some made calls to their boss or supervisor to say they will be late."

Mr Sin was on the train behind the faulty one, and ended up being an hour late for work.

Though free bus and shuttle services were available between Woodlands and Bishan MRT stations between 8.30am to 9.40am, many commuters went online to voice their frustrations about being late for work.

President and CEO of SMRT, Desmond Kuek, called the timing of Monday's incident - which came days after fare increases were announced by the Public Transport Council (PTC) - "unfortunate".

He said: "The decision made by the PTC is not an SMRT decision. But from what we can see from the PTC decision, it was taken with the full view of affordability to commuters, but also in recognition that there are operating costs that have to go into the kinds of repairs and maintenance that need to be made in order to sustain and keep the system at a high level of reliability, availability and safety."

Mr Kuek also noted that train withdrawals have come down from 3.3 to 2.2 per 100,000km.

He noted that the incidents, which are not related, are of serious concern to SMRT and that the rail operator is addressing each incident.

"We are targeting to bring the withdrawal rate even further down this year, to possibly below 2 per 100,000km."

Meanwhile, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) said it will carry out an independent investigation into Monday morning's service disruption on the North-South MRT Line.

In a statement on Monday afternoon, LTA also said it has directed SMRT to provide a full report on the incident.

The report will include the recovery measures carried out and an assessment on what more could be done to help commuters adjust their travel plans.

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