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SMRT says sorry for ‘unacceptable’ disruptions

SINGAPORE — The authorities are investigating the recent spate of train service disruptions on SMRT’s rail network and plan to review the operator’s resources and processes for maintaining the rail system.

SINGAPORE — The authorities are investigating the recent spate of train service disruptions on SMRT’s rail network and plan to review the operator’s resources and processes for maintaining the rail system.

Calling the situation “unacceptable”, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) said it has asked SMRT to investigate the disruptions — with two incidents today (March 3) bringing the count to five in nine days — and provide a full account.

“The LTA will be working with SMRT on the immediate remedial actions to turn around the situation,” a spokesperson said today. “We intend to review again SMRT’s management of resources and processes for the maintenance of the rail system.”

This evening’s disruption on the East-West Line began at 5.35pm, when track faults at Clementi and Lakeside stations caused trains to slow down from Queenstown to Boon Lay.

Commuters were advised to add 20 minutes to their travelling time between Bugis and Jurong East stations in both directions as bridging bus services were activated. SMRT later announced at 7.12pm that normal service had resumed.

In the morning, a signalling fault at 7.28am at HarbourFront station on the Circle Line stopped all trains between Haw Par Villa and HarbourFront. Passengers on four trains had to be driven manually to the nearest stations, while free buses and seven shuttle bus services were activated. Service resumed at 8.11am.

In a statement today, SMRT said it was looking into the cause of the Circle Line incident. It also gave an update on investigations into the three service disruptions last week — two on the North-South Line (NSL) and one on the Bukit Panjang LRT line.

Investigations showed that the NSL incident on Feb 23 was caused by a damaged power collective device on the train that affected the third rail, which supplies power to the train.

“A fleet-wide inspection of all trains that service the North-South, East-West Lines was completed to ensure all power collecting devices on the trains are in good condition. In addition, we have also inspected the third rail condition along the incident stretch of track to ensure that it is fit for use,” the operator added.

The Bukit Panjang LRT disruption on Feb 24 was caused by a dislodged power and signal collecting assembly on an LRT train, which hit a signal rail and caused a power trip. The damaged signal rail had to be repaired. No anomalies were found during a system-wide check on all other trains and tracks.

The third disruption occurred on the NSL on Feb 27, when a man climbed onto the track between Choa Chu Kang and Bukit Gombak stations. “We are reviewing the existing security measures at those sections with the relevant authorities to further reduce the areas of vulnerability within the network,” SMRT said.

Commenting on the incidents, SMRT Trains managing director Lee Ling Wee said: “While SMRT’s investigations into these four incidents indicate that the cause of each incident was different and technically unrelated, we are clear that any service lapse for whatever reason affects the quality and reliability of service to our commuters.”

He added that SMRT has noted the feedback over gaps in its service recovery efforts — in particular the bus bridging services — and will work with the SMRT buses team to better manage them.

Mr Desmond Kuek, SMRT Corporation president and group chief executive officer, added: “We apologise for the rail incidents over the past week...The SMRT team will stay focused on safety and reliability improvements as we work to renew Singapore’s ageing rail network to the benefit of our commuters.”

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