Commuters vent fury online as delays hit NSL for third day straight

Commuters vent fury online as delays hit NSL for third day straight
TODAY file photo
No service-disruption alerts from SMRT on social media, adding to passengers’ anger
Published: 8:55 PM, June 29, 2017
Updated: 11:51 PM, June 29, 2017

SINGAPORE — Commuters vented their frustration on social media on Thursday morning (June 29) after the third straight day of train delays on the North-South Line (NSL), caused by a signalling fault at Woodlands MRT Station and a platform door fault at Bishan MRT Station.

The glitches occurred over a period of less than two hours, and came on the back of similar disruptions on Tuesday and Wednesday. Adding to the inconvenience on Thursday, no alerts were sent to travellers by rail operator SMRT via its social media channels.

At about 6.40am, a train encountered a signalling problem at Woodlands station, and was then driven manually at a slower speed towards Jurong East station, where commuters alighted safely.

Mr Patrick Nathan, SMRT’s vice-president of corporate communication, said in a statement that the train had been withdrawn from service for further checks.

Then, at around 8.20am, a platform door at Bishan station malfunctioned, delaying a train that was travelling towards Marina South Pier. “The cumulative effect of these two faults on the same line during the morning peak hour resulted in longer waiting times for commuters,” Mr Nathan said.

SMRT did not respond to TODAY’s queries on why it did not send out alerts on social media for the two incidents, even though Mr Nathan said that “in-train and station announcements were made to keep commuters updated”. “We apologise for the inconvenience caused to affected commuters,” he added.

Disgruntled commuters who had no information to plan their trips ahead complained on Twitter on Thursday, with one user @thejanelle tweeting that she woke up early but still ended up being late for work. “So done with SMRT,” she added.

Other Twitter users took issue with the lack of communication and updates online, including @hiyager, who said: “But where’s the announcement on the train delay? Why (is) there no free bus activation?”

On Wednesday, train services were delayed during the evening rush hour on both the NSL and the newly opened Tuas West Extension, due to a signalling fault on the new communication-based train control system, which is undergoing intensive full-day testing.

Commuters had to put up with the slowdown for about two hours, with long queues forming at busier stations, and passengers rushing to catch buses, which were also packed. 

The day before, the Land Transport Authority and SMRT had reminded commuters to expect delays due to tests being conducted on the new signalling system for the NSL. The trials started in March, and are expected to continue for a “few more months”.

Both parties had sought the “continued understanding and patience” of commuters as they work to resolve the issues and complete the scheduled tests.