MRT tunnel flooding: Pump maintenance work not carried out on 3 occasions

MRT tunnel flooding: Pump maintenance work not carried out on 3 occasions

Maintenance works for the Bishan portal sump pump system were not properly carried out since December last year, SMRT investigations into a train tunnel flooding incident have found.

SINGAPORE: Maintenance works for the Bishan portal sump pump system were not properly carried out since December last year, SMRT investigations into a train tunnel flooding incident have found.

Preliminary investigations show that quarterly maintenance works for Dec 2016, March and June this year were not conducted as prescribed in SMRT's manual, the train operator said in a news release on Tuesday (Oct 31). 

Maintenance records were duly signed off and submitted. However, SMRT's investigation showed that there were no track access approvals issued for preventive maintenance of the Bishan portal sump pumps for the maintenance dates.

Pump records for the same dates show that the pumps were not activated on those days, which would have been required as part of the maintenance procedure had the work been done.

The manager and staff responsible for the maintenance of the Bishan portal sump pump system have been suspended and are assisting in the investigations.

"We will be working with the Union to ensure due process is followed," SMRT said. "Integrity and responsibility by our managers and supervisors are key, and constitute part of our core values. We are determined to correct these weak links swiftly and decisively and are implementing a series of measures to do so." 

In addition to intensifying training among employees, the train operator will be making changes to the management and maintenance team, as well as setting up a Joint Readiness Inspection team that will supplement report to SMRT's own audit system and will independently report to a SMRT Board’s Audit and Risk Committee.

This inspection team will also report to the LTA/SMRT Joint Board Technical Committee. 

"This will ensure that maintenance and asset renewal are independently audited and monitored in a systematic manner," SMRT said.

SMRT will also engage experts to help step up quality control surveillance of all preventive maintenance activities and conduct a system-wide inspection of critical systems to "ensure that maintenance works are carried out in accordance with our specified standards".

SMRT Chairman Seah Moon Ming said: "SMRT has zero tolerance for failures in supervision and diligence over maintenance tasks. We do not condone any acts of dishonesty and dereliction of responsibility, whether by management or staff. All who are accountable will be disciplined sternly, regardless of rank and position. Accordingly, the relevant management chain of command in SMRT must be held accountable."

LTA TO INDEPENDENTLY EVALUATE FINDINGS

The Land Transport Authority (LTA) said in a statement on Tuesday that it is "deeply concerned by SMRT’s findings that maintenance was not done at the Bishan sump pump".

LTA will independently evaluate SMRT’s investigation findings on the suspected falsification of maintenance records prior to the tunnel flooding incident. It is carrying out a full investigation into the incident and will make its recommendation on the penalties to the LTA Board "in due time".

"As the regulator, the Land Transport Authority views breaches of all rail operating licences seriously. This includes those pertaining to the maintenance of the rail operating assets," the authority said. 

After a torrential downpour on Saturday (Oct 7), a section of the North-South Line between Braddell and Bishan MRT stations was flooded.

Train services were disrupted for more than 20 hours, which affected more than a quarter of a million commuters.

SMRT had announced earlier that more flood prevention measures would be carried out to prevent similar incidents in future.

Infographic: How the MRT tunnel flooded

Source: CNA/kc

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