SINGAPORE: Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Sunday acknowledged public frustration over the rail system, after a week of troubles for public transport operator SMRT.
Many took issue with statements from authorities saying the trains “came into contact”, interpreting it as a move to downplay an incident where eyewitnesses say some commuters were flung from their feet due to the impact.
Wednesday’s train collision during the morning peak hour rush coincided with delays on another SMRT-run line, the Circle Line. Adding to SMRT's woes, commuters were told that same night to expect up to an extra 40 minutes’ travelling time on the North-South Line, compounding frustration with disruptions on the MRT system. Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan called it an “awful day” and apologised to those affected by the Joo Koon accident.
Separately, SMRT this week took to its Facebook page to rebut what it said was an “obviously fake” online post alleging that after Mr Desmond Kuek was appointed SMRT's CEO, 50 per cent of the night crew staff were laid off. The way this was communicated came under scrutiny as well, with some calling it an "unprofessional PR response".
Here is a sample of what our Facebook readers are saying:
Joo Koon train collision not just a bump: Jolyn Ng
People who say that it is just a bump have never had someone fall on them on the train before. This is not like a car accident where bumpers kiss and both drivers are safely buckled into their seats with seat belts.
This was an accident at peak hour with many standing passengers. It only takes one fatty, or even just one decent-sized human being to lose their balance and fall on you from an awkward angle. And trust me, when the train is crowded, all angles are awkward angles. You have no room to adjust and properly center your weight to brace for impact.
Call a spade a spade: Kohila Thavanesan
Please call a spade a spade. There was a collision and this accident resulted in more than 30 people getting hurt. This deserves serious attention and should not be underplayed.
Totally unacceptable: Samuel Mg Sim
This is totally unacceptable. Why wasn't there comprehensive testing of the signalling system before going live? Is MRT not subject to same vigorous test requirement like in the automotive industry? People can get killed!
Thales cannot be allowed to self-certify: William Goh
External independent checks must be made no matter how expensive it is. Thales cannot be the one to self-certify that its system is safe to use after this incident. The use of the word “anomaly” should not be used to brush off the incident.
System not smart: Jackson Wong
I didn’t know our train system is not smart enough to detect an obstacle in front and can still drive into it. It doesn't matter whether it’s three, two or one train in front. If there is an obstacle, you stop. Period.
Shut down the lines and thoroughly check the whole system: Suresh Kumar
The entire North-South and East-West Lines should be shut down to rectify the problem for once. The trains and track should be thoroughly checked. We don’t want to see any fatalities or serious injuries then work on it. Let’s take safety seriously. It’s okay if there are inconveniences to commuters. We would rather suffer one or two days of a shutdown than take the train and think if we can reach our destinations safely or on time.
Don’t blame software, blame humans: Jeffrey Say
We are always blaming software for the train faults. How about the human elements - from the top management down?
Every failure is a lesson learnt: Marcus Ang
I believe Mr Khaw Boon Wan and his team can fix the matter. Every time problems arise, we need time to find the root cause and the solution. It is not as simple as what we normally think, especially since the entire train system includes so many wires and logic controls as well as parts with wear and tear.
Every failure is a lesson learnt, especially when some are new to those involved. Be it technical or human fault, identify the problem and analyse it, solve it and move on. Ignore the critics and unnecessary pressure given by some of them; do what you need to do to get it corrected. It is a tough decision to shut down the stations for a few days, knowing that you will receive more criticism, but if this is to ensure the safety for the commuters, to ensure they can return home safely and have dinner with their family, then my salute to you for making this decision. All the best to SMRT warriors. Think positively.
Double the manpower, double the problems: Adrian Haan
Double the night crew, but its problems double as well? How does that work?
Just get things working: Norman Wong
Hello (SMRT) CEO, I don't care if you've servicemen at the work or Superman at work, just get everything to work!
I don't care if you fired 500 workers and got an extra 5,000 workers, just get the train running without delays!
Support the hardworking SMRT staff: Surya Kumar
We all need to pause and lend support to the vast majority of SMRT staff who are honest and hardworking folks. They want to take pride in keeping the nation moving, only to be let down by a few. They are after all, our brothers and sisters who can use some support and encouragement from all of us. Let us all show our appreciation to them to help keep their chins up.
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