SINGAPORE: Train service on the North-South and East-West lines resumed after an outage that lasted at least 3.5 hours during the evening rush hour on Tuesday (Jul 7).
At about 7.15pm, SMRT tweeted that commuters should expect an additional 20 minutes’ travelling time between Clementi and Joo Koon, as well as between Marina Bay and Yishun, due to a traction power fault. Subsequently, commuters reported that trains had stalled, and the lights and air-conditioning had gone off.
Train service in both directions on the East-West Line resumed at about 9.20pm, while service on North-South Line resumed at 10.35pm, said SMRT. However, the trains would be travelling at slower speeds on both networks, the operator added.
The Land Transport Authority issued a statement at 11.20pm saying a faulty train could have caused a power trip:
"Preliminary investigations found a faulty train which could have caused the power to trip; arcing was observed on the underside of this train. The power surge caused the protective relays across the entire North South East West Lines network to be activated, leading to a shut-down of power across the two lines. We will continue to comb through the system through the night to see if there could be other faulty trains or other causes.
All passengers who were on board trains during the disruption were safely detrained at station platforms. All available bus assets were activated across the whole island to provide free bus service for affected commuters, with the police helping with crowd control. Aside from the free bus services, commuters also used the North East Line, Circle Line and Downtown Line, which were unaffected, to continue their journey on the other rail lines.
LTA engineers will be working through the night with SMRT to recover train services and ensure that services run properly tomorrow. LTA will conduct a full investigation into this incident.
LTA’s Crisis Management Team, led by Chief Executive, Mr Chew Men Leong, was at the Land Transport Operations Centre to lead the recovery efforts. The operations team also liaised with the PTOs to augment bus services serving the affected areas, and deployed officers on the ground to facilitate the bus operations. LTA engineers were also at the incident site to assist SMRT’s recovery efforts.
We apologise to all commuters who were affected by this disruption."
The Land Transport Authority’s CEO Chew Men Leong earlier said preliminary investigations indicated a “power surge” caused the train networks to shut down. He said SMRT would be working through the night to recover train services. "We assure commuters that LTA will conduct a full investigation into this incident," he told Channel NewsAsia.
Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew said he is "extremely concerned" about the incident, adding that it is the first time service on both lines were affected at once. "We need to get to the bottom of what caused tonight’s disruption. I have told SMRT and LTA to work through the night to fully recover train services and ensure that services run properly tomorrow," he wrote on Facebook.
'I TOOK 3 HOURS TO GO HOME'
Commuter Irene Seah said she took three hours to get home due to the disruption. "I have gone through half of Singapore in these three hours. Thanks, SMRT - like I'm very free to go (on a) Singapore night tour after work," she wrote in response to a Channel NewsAsia post on Facebook.
Ms Zhuang Ai Ling added her feet hurt as she walked from Orchard to Bugis, as there were no taxis and buses were too crowded. "Kampong style," she quipped on Facebook.
And while some griped that electronic signboards at MRT stations were not updated in time, Mr Joel Nicholas Chua praised SMRT staff for their response, especially those who are fasting during the month of Ramadan.
"Many of the staff at Bishan station were Muslim and were giving their all, patiently and professionally providing assistance to the interminable crowds despite the fact that the breakdown occurred around their break fast time," he wrote on Facebook, adding that commuters should also appreciate their hard work.
#ThingsIDidWhenMRTWasDown TRENDS ON TWITTER
As netizens took to social media to express their frustration, some also turned to humour. Late Tuesday, the hashtag #ThingsIDidWhenMRTWasDown was trending on Twitter in Singapore.
#ThingsIDidWhenMRTWasDown imagine I was Electro and caused the whole of Singapore to be shrouded in darkness— claire. (@claires_flair) July 7, 2015
Tuesday's double whammy marks the worst disruption for SMRT since 2011. On Dec 15, 2011, train services were down for about six hours on the North-South Line between Bishan and Marina Bay, affecting about 127,000 commuters. Two days later, train service on the North-South Line was disrupted between Toa Payoh and Marina Bay, affecting about 94,000 commuters.