Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Recap of recent Train service disruptions

Update 13 Mar 2015: 'Steady progress' made in reducing train service disruptions: PM Lee

Despite a recent series of disruptions to service, "steady progress" has been made to reduce train downtime, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said.

In a Facebook post on Thursday (Mar 12) night, Mr Lee said that maintaining and building Singapore's public transport system is a "tough, high pressure job" as the maintenance and repair crews only have a few hours to maintain the trains and tracks and get them ready for another day of service.

"The Land Transport Authority (LTA) and rail operators have also been working hard to reduce downtime and malfunctions. Unfortunately we’ve had a series of incidents recently, but we are making steady progress," he wrote.


LRT failure raises many questions
Train reliability has improved, but transport operators must do better: Lui Tuck Yew
Systematic ‘health check’ of LRT system needed: Lui Tuck Yew

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Signalling fault stalls North South Line train

An SMRT train travelling on the North-South Line towards Jurong East stalled at the Yishun platform on Thursday afternoon (Mar 12). 

The rail operator said the disruption at 3.36pm was due to a signalling fault. There was a delay of about 15 minutes to trains moving in both directions “to reroute trains to minimise impact to service”, SMRT said. 

SMRT said train services resumed to normal schedules after an hour. It also said station and train announcements were made to commuters. However a check of its social media accounts showed no updates, and some of those affected took to Twitter to complain.

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Singapore’s World Class Public Transport

– My Little Corner: Ominous omen for downtown line
– Likedatosocanmeh: Commuters will pay dearly for another SMRT failure
– New Nation: S’poreans shocked there was no MRT train disruption this morning
– TOC: No solution to taxi fare conundrum: Josephine Teo
– Blogging for Myself: SMRT don’t understand trains and systems
– Zit Seng’s Blog: Our Trains Keep You Challenged
– Blogging for Myself: LRT down: Calls for Hara Kiri
– Singapore Recalcitrant: Disordered SMRT under over-rated CEO Desmond Kuek
– New Nation: ERP CEO can join SMRT to help trains run as smoothly as gantries

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North East Line delay: Student's leg caught between MRT, platform at Hougang

The North East Line saw a delay in service on Wednesday morning (Mar 11) after a rush-hour incident in which a student's leg appeared to have been trapped between the train and platform at Hougang MRT.

A photo sent by someone at the station, who asked to be identified as "Long", showed the teenage girl, in a beige uniform, sitting on the platform of the train station, with her left leg in the gap between the train and platform.

The incident took place at around 7.50am, according to the photographer. According to the Singapore Civil Defence Force, the teen was dislodged by members of the public. She was freed before the ambulance and fire engine despatched to the scene arrived. She was conveyed to Tan Tock Seng Hospital, said SCDF.

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Bukit Panjang LRT service suspended after power trip and fire

Services along the Bukit Panjang LRT will be suspended until Tuesday morning (Mar 10) SMRT announced on Monday evening.

In a statement to the media, SMRT said a power trip between Pending and Jelapang stations at about 5.30pm caused train services to be disrupted on the entire line. Separately, a fire broke out at Senja station's plant room at about 5.45pm, where power-tie breakers were found to be damaged. 

A Facebook update by SMRT at 7pm said: "Services on the BPLRT will not resume this evening. We are working to recover service by tomorrow morning and are investigating the cause of the incident. Free bus and bus bridging services will continue. We ask commuters to seek alternative transport options."

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Bukit Panjang LRT line repairs will see delays

It is still unclear when train services on the Bukit Panjang LRT line will resume, after an evening disruption on Monday 9 March | Photo: Facebook / Lui Tuck Yew

UPDATE: Bukit Panjang LRT outer loop Service A resumed service at 1.30pm on 10 March, and for inner loop Service B, services resumed at 4.30pm.

A statement by SMRT said that free public bus and bus bridging services will continue to operate until further notice, and during the period of recovery as personnel work towards fully stabilising the system, commuters will not be charged for their train journeys until noon on 11 March.

SMRT apologised for the inconvenience this disruption has caused commuters and added that a full investigation is being conducted.

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LTA says spate of train disruptions 'unacceptable'
Singapore's Land Transport Authority (LTA) issued a clipped but blunt statement on Tuesday evening, referring to the recent spate of train disruptions as "unacceptable". PHOTO: SPH

SINGAPORE'S Land Transport Authority (LTA) issued a clipped but blunt statement on Tuesday evening, referring to the recent spate of train disruptions as "unacceptable".

"Today's disruptions on the Circle and East-West Lines are the latest in a recent spate of incidents on the SMRT rail network. Commuters have been severely inconvenienced again," said an LTA spokesman.

The LTA said that it has directed SMRT to investigate the various disruptions and give a full account of them while it was also conducting independent investigations.

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Overall review of LRT system is next priority, says Transport Minister

Train services in in both directions of the Bukit Panjang LRT (BPLRT) line have been restored in full, nearly 23 hours after they were suspended.

"We understand that many commuters have been affected by the BPLRT disruption. We deeply apologise for the inconvenience caused and are grateful to commuters for their patience and understanding," said public transport operator SMRT.

Trains on Service A of the line restarted on Tuesday afternoon (Mar 10), SMRT said in a tweet at 12.43pm. Service B - which runs in the opposite direction - resumed at 4.30pm, said SMRT in a statement later on Tuesday.

Bukit Panjang LRT services still suspended on Tuesday morning
Bukit Panjang LRT service suspended after power trip and fire

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Fifth disruption to SMRT services in a week: LTA calls this 'unacceptable'

Train services along the East West Line were disrupted for nearly one and a half hours due to "track faults at both Clementi and Lakeside stations", SMRT said in a statement to the media on Tuesday evening (Mar 3).

The public transport operator sent out a tweet at 5.44pm telling commuters to expect an additional 20 minutes travelling time from Tanjong Pagar to Jurong East towards Joo Koon as a result of the track fault. 

At 5.49pm, it tweeted that free bus services have been activated between Boon Lay and Queenstown in both directions. 

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S’poreans apologise to SMRT CEO for causing his trains to frequently break down
They are truly sorry they have to take his trains at the same time causing congestion

Singaporeans from all walks of life, who like to take the MRT train because cars are for rich people, are feeling apologetic and sincerely sorry.

This after they caused the North South MRT Line to break down again this Monday morning during peak hour as they all got ready for work and school at the same time at 7am.

One Singaporean, Jin Soh Lee, said he would like to personally apologise to SMRT CEO Desmond Kuek for causing him inconvenience: “I’m sorry Desmond Kuek. I caused your MRT system to break down again. Please forgive me and my fellow commuters for making you work harder to oversee that there is no more train faults even when all of these problems are not your fault.”

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Mr Desmond Kuek, President and Group Chief Executive Officer of SMRT, added: “We apologise for the rail incidents over the past week. Our transport professionals are giving their all to make your journey a better one. 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."

Mr Lee Ling Wee, Managing Director, SMRT Trains, 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.

We are sorry for the inconvenience caused to our commuting public. The SMRT team is doing what it can to increase the reliability and availability of our train services.

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SMRT apologises for recent spate of rail disruptions, says incidents are unrelated
Commuters waiting at the East-West Line's Clementi MRT Station on March 3, 2015. As SMRT issued the statement on Tuesday, another delay occurred on the East-West line from Tanjong Pagar to Jurong East towards Joo Koon. -- ST PHOTO: TIFFANY GOH

The recent spate of rail disruptions on SMRT's network over the past week were unrelated incidents, the transport operator said in a statement on Tuesday.

Apologising for the inconvenience caused to commuters, SMRT added that it is deeply concerned by the frequency of the delays and is working to improve the reliability and availability of its services.

In its statement, SMRT shared its investigation findings from the recent disruptions.

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Train service on East-West line resumes after delay caused by track fault

A second train fault in one day, this time affecting train service on the East-West line from Boon Lay to Queenstown stations toward Pasir Ris, has been rectified. SMRT said in a tweet on Tuesday at 7.06pm that train services between the affected stations have resumed.

Commuters were first alerted to the second train delay at 5.44pm.

Later at 6.28pm, SMRT said that there would be an estimated 15 minutes of additional travelling time between the two stations. The delay was traced to a track fault near Clementi. This latest delay lasted over an hour.

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Train service on East-West line resumes after delay caused by track fault
The crowd at Pioneer MRT Station at around 6pm on Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Train service on the East-West line experienced delays during the evening rush hour on Tuesday due to track faults at two stations. It resumed at 7.06pm.

In a tweet at 5.44pm, SMRT said there would be an estimated 20 minutes of additional travelling time from Tanjong Pagar to Jurong East towards Joo Koon.

In a statement to the media, the train operator said track faults at Clementi and Lakeside stations caused trains to travel at slower speed from Queenstown to Boon Lay. A free bus service between both stations was activated

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Packed stations on Circle Line after rush hour disruption
Crowds seen at the Serangoon MRT station this morning (March 3). Photo: Channel NewsAsia

A signal fault that resulted in a disruption of train services between Pasir Panjang and HarbourFront this morning (March 3) was cleared in about half an hour, but the delay, compounded with morning commuter crowds, saw larger-than-usual crowds at other train stations along the Circle Line.

Serangoon MRT Station was so crowded that commuters were temporarily barred from taking the escalator down to the platform to ease congestion.

A Facebook user, Sally Goh, said the disruption started around 7.30am, when she boarded the train at HarborFront MRT station. The train abruptly stopped, and some of the lights in the carriage went off for about 10 minutes, she said.

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Circle Line train service resumes after hour-long disruption

The disrupted train service on the Circle Line this morning has resumed after an hour, public transport operator SMRT said in an update via Twitter on Tuesday.

A signal fault caused the train service disruption between Labrador Park and Harbour Front from around 7.30am to 8.24am.

Affected commuters were offered free public and shuttle bus rides at train stations between Pasir Panjang and Harbour Front.

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Train services on North-South Line disrupted after intrusions

A "track intrusion" caused delays along the North-South MRT Line at around 9pm today.

SMRT first tweeted about an approximate 15-minute delay between Yew Tee and Jurong East stations at 9.05pm. At 9.32pm, it posted an update saying that train services were running normally, only to tweet 12 minutes later that "the person intrudes to the track again".

Train services between Bukit Gombak and Yew Tee stations were halted in both directions as a result of the second intrusion.

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Police investigating criminal trespass at Choa Chu Kang MRT station

Police are investigating a case of criminal trespass at Choa Chu Kang MRT station.

Police said they received a call on Friday (Feb 27) at about 8.40pm requesting assistance. SMRT in a Facebook post said the track intrusion disrupted train services on the North-South Line between Yew Tee and Jurong East.

A man was apparently seen walking on the viaduct between Choa Chu Kang and Bukit Gombak MRT stations. As a safety precaution, SMRT staff immediately stopped train services to investigate.

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Surge of MRT faults and incidents in Feb 2015
There appears to be a surge of MRT faults and incidents in Feb last month

In Feb last month alone, there were 8 reported incidents appearing in the news:
  • Jun – 0
  • Jul – 5
  • Aug – 3
  • Sep – 6
  • Oct – 2
  • Nov – 2
  • Dec – 2
  • Jan – 3
  • Feb – 8
  • Mar - 2
The latest incident occurred on Fri evening (27 Feb) on the North-South Line between Yew Tee and Jurong East. Train services for both directions were stopped over a span of 90 minutes due to a “track intrusion”.

SMRT said in a Facebook update that a member of the public made a police report at 8.45pm as a man was seen walking on the viaduct between Choa Chu Kang and Bukit Gombak MRT stations.

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Bad Luck All Around

Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam said in his Budget speech that the rise in petrol duties is meant to encourage less car usage and reduce carbon emissions.

One man took that advice to heart and went one step further. He even skipped the bus alternative - another carbon emission source - and decided to walk on the viaduct between Choa Chu Kang and Bukit Gombak MRT stations. Hence the latest train service disruption for over a span of 90 minutes on Friday evening (Feb 27).

February 2015 seems to set a record of sorts for train breakdowns and other hiccups:
  • 03 Feb - NSL no train service from Marina Bay to Marina South Pier station for an hour
  • 17 Feb - EWL disruption from Joo Koon to Jurong East due to a train fault @ Jurong East
  • 18 Feb - NEL train service suspended for 40 minutes, signalling fault
  • 23 Feb - NSL disruption between Yew Tee and Kranji, track fault
  • 24 Feb - LRT service bet Choa Chu Kang & Keat Hong disrupted by damaged 3rd rail
  • 25 Feb - NSL delay bet Somerset & Dhoby Ghaut, signal fault train departing Somerset 
  • 27 Feb - NSL disruption due to  track "intrusion" near Choa Chu Kang station
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Train disruptions: SMRT faces several constraints, says analyst

Two disruptions brought SMRT trains to a stop on Tuesday (Mar 3), bringing the number to five - in the space of just one week. While commuters and the Land Transport Authority have expressed dissatisfaction, one analyst has said SMRT faces several constraints.

The train operator’s woes started on Feb 23, when services were disrupted for over four hours on the North-South Line, due to damaged train equipment. On Feb 24, the Bukit Panjang LRT was also hit by a train fault. Meanwhile, on Feb 27, an intruder was spotted on the tracks of another section of the North-South Line, forcing SMRT to stop services along the stretch.

The two disruptions on Tuesday were on the Circle Line and East-West Line.

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