SINGAPORE: Investigations into the train that stalled as it was approaching Bedok MRT station on Monday (Nov 20) showed lightning did not hit the train itself, but rather affected trackside equipment, SMRT said on Tuesday.
This is contrary to some media reports that emerged after the incident which said that the train had been struck.
In a statement, SMRT's vice president of corporate communications Patrick Nathan said the train was immediately able to recover and move on its own power after the incident, moving passengers safely to Bedok station.
At Bedok station, passengers alighted and the train was promptly withdrawn from service to allow for a "thorough inspection" by SMRT's engineers, he added.
"We would like to reiterate that passengers’ safety, as well as that of our staff, is of paramount importance to us," Mr Nathan said in the statement.
He also reiterated that it is safe to travel in SMRT's trains during a lightning storm as they are protected by a faraday cage.
This is an enclosure formed by conductive material that blocks electric fields and electric currents, such as lightning strikes, from entering the trains. During lightning, the electric current will travel through the outside shell of the train and the wheels to the track, and not into the cabin, Mr Nathan explained.
After Monday's incident, the train driver said he was unwell and was warded at Changi General Hospital (CGH) overnight.
Channel NewsAsia understands that the man complained of numbness and chest pain.
Earlier on Tuesday, CGH said he was "in stable condition" but declined to give further details.
In his statement, Mr Nathan said the train driver was on medical leave for two days prior to the incident.
After the lightning incident, he reported that he was feeling unwell and was admitted to hospital for observation "as a precautionary measure to ensure the wellbeing of our staff", Mr Nathan said, adding that the driver had been assessed to be well and remained under observation.
SMRT CEO of Trains, Lee Ling Wee said in a media briefing later on Tuesday that the train captain is reported to be well and has been discharged.
He confirmed that a number of track circuits around Bedok station failed due to the lightning.
"However, we took the train back to depot and we checked the entire train very thoroughly and there was no burn mark. There was also no sign of damage on the surge arrester, so we are very sure that the lightning did not strike the train," Mr Lee said.
He added that lightning remains a concern to SMRT, not just for commuter service, but also for its impact on engineering hours.
"Whenever there is lightning or thunder, we won’t send our staff down to do their work," he said.