Monday, 21 August 2017

Fresh round of signalling fault delays hit NSL & DTL

Update 1 Nov 2017: SMRT flooding incident: Maintenance team signed off on work that was not done; staff suspended
A malfunction in the water pumping system at Bishan MRT station caused rainwater to collect in the MRT tunnel, resulting in train service disruption on Oct 7 & 8. FOTO: ST READER

Preliminary investigations by train operator SMRT have found that a maintenance team in charge of a pump system, which eventually failed and caused a massive 20-hr disruption, signed off on work that they had not done.

The manager & staff responsible for the maintenance of the Bishan pump system have been suspended & are assisting in investigations, said SMRT in a statement on Tuesday (Oct 31) evening.

Records for quarterly maintenance works for December 2016, as well as in March & June this year were submitted but investigations found that track access approvals were not issued for these dates.

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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.

Preliminary investigations show that quarterly maintenance works for Dec 2016, March & 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 & 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.

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The public scolding that Singapore’s public transport tsars handed down this week to a handful of rail maintenance workers over a large-scale breakdown is raising questions about where the buck stops in the management of the Lion City’s metro network, as rival Asian metropolises like Hong Kong and Taiwan pull ahead with superior train reliability.

In a rare move, transport minister Khaw Boon Wan on Monday criticised workers in charge of anti-flood measures at the metro operator SMRT Corp, after an October 7 flood in a underground tunnel near the suburban Bishan station caused a near 20-hour disruption to parts of the rail network. It was one of Singapore’s worst ever rail breakdowns.

A mechanism designed to remove stormwater from the tunnel failed to work because it was poorly maintained. Khaw said the maintenance team had “failed us”, and urged the metro operator to “nail down who [is] responsible”. “I look to SMRT to do what is right … something must happen to the staff,” Khaw said.

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Hong Kong newspaper SCMP calls our MRT a “laughing stock”

Over the weekend, Hong Kong newspaper South China Morning Post published two pieces discussing our MRT system. Both circulated quite widely on social media, with the first article totalling over 17,000 shares. In the article, “Southeast Asia specialist” Bhavan Jaipragas talks about how Singapore’s reputation efficiency is literally, going down the tube.

Jaipragas mentions how Singapore’s MRT network, once touted as one of Asia’s best, has been dogged by major breakdowns and delays in recent years. Today it lags behind Hong Kong’s MTR and the Taipei MRT in reliability, he says, despite how the government has since spent hundreds of millions of dollars overhauling the network.

He also talks about the October 7 flood in the underground tunnel near Bishan station that caused a 20-hour disruption and that while transport minister Khaw Boon Wan, SMRT chairman Seah Moon Ming and SMRT Chief Executive Desmond Kuek apologised, “commuters and observers said their implications that rank-and-file workers bore responsibility raised questions on whether a lack of executive accountability was behind the metro network’s woes.”

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Passengers board a Singapore Mass Rapid Transit train. Photo: AFP

Official data shows the reliability of Singapore’s metro network has improved threefold in the past two years, but tell that to ordinary commuters in the Lion City and you are likely to get baffled looks. Ask the republic’s public transport officials, however, and they will tell you the public are not trusting the figures because of sloppy journalism.

Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan in July said preliminary data showed trains travelled 393,000km on average before encountering a delay of more than five minutes in the first six months of this year, from an average of 133,000km in 2015.

Singaporean commuters who spoke to This Week in Asia in the Lion City this week said their experience from daily commutes was not in sync with the data. “When you go home at 6pm or 7pm, at the back of your mind you are praying there is not going to be another signalling fault or track fault or train fault or door fault that is going make you late,” said one commuter.

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Downtown Line 3 hit by delays on opening day

Commuters reported delays on the Downtown Line 3 on Saturday (Oct 21) just hours after the new line opened its doors to the public.

On Facebook, some commuters posted fotos & said they were "stuck" at various stations including Bedok North station & Mattar station.

 SBS Transit's senior vice-president of corporate communications Tammy Tan told ST that a defective train was withdrawn from service at the Tampines West Station, which caused a delay of about 5 minutes.

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Commuters experience Downtown Line delays on first day of DTL 3 opening

Commuters on the Downtown Line 3 on Saturday, Oct. 21, are reporting delays on the first day the line opens to the public.

The commuters say they are “stuck” at some stations such as Bedok North station and Mattar station.

The Straits Times reported that the delay is due to a train fault, and the defective train was pushed out. One train had stopped at Promenade station and moved only after 20 minutes.

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Downtown Line 3 makes grim debut as commuters experience train delays on opening day

Commuters who were hoping that they would not experience service disruptions on the brand new Downtown Line 3 (DTL3) were sorely disappointed. Several commuters reported experiencing delays on the line that opened to the public today, following a soft launch last week and an official opening ceremony last night.

Commuters who tried out the line during the soft launch also experienced train delays and were eventually instructed to alight trains and board bridging buses that were deployed to assist inconvenienced commuters.

It is believed that the disruptions on the DTL3 today were caused by a train fault and that the defective train was subsequently pushed out. Several commuters travelling on various stations on the line, including Bedok North and Mattar stations, were affected by this disruption. Some posted that they were delayed for at least 5 minutes while others reported being stuck for about 30 minutes.

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Downtown Line 3 open house marred by train service disruption

Sunday’s (15 October) open house event for the new Downtown Line 3 (DTL3) went slightly off track due to a “train fault” that led to services being disrupted.

At around 12.30pm, a track fault was announced in trains and commuters were requested to disembark at the Ubi station, said media reports.

SBS Transit, which runs the Downtown Line, said in a Facebook post at 1.05pm that there would be “no train service between DT1 Bukit Panjang and DT5 Beauty World Stations” due to a “train fault”. Free bus rides were made available at designated bus stops near the affected stations.

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Flooded MRT tunnel, trackside fire caused train disruption on NSL: SMRT
Commuters at City Hall MRT station which is affected by the train disruption

Train service along a large stretch of the North-South Line (NSL) - from Ang Mo Kio to Marina South Pier - was disrupted on Saturday (Oct 7), after 2 separate incidents in the tunnel.

First, water got into a section of the tunnel from Bishan to Braddell MRT stations during the heavy downpour in the afternoon. As a result, train services were stopped between Bishan & Toa Payoh stations at about 5.30pm as a precaution, said SMRT.

Separately, at about 5.55pm, a small fire was spotted trackside in the tunnel between Marina Bay & Raffles Place MRT stations, said SMRT.

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SCDF photos show knee-deep flood waters in tunnel between Braddell & Bishan MRT stations

The Singapore Civil Defence Force has been lauded by the public for working tirelessly through the night and day to bring North-South Line MRT services back on track.

New photos shared by SCDF showed their personnel at times in knee-high waters in the tunnel as they carried out their rescue operation of the MRT system.

The SCDF said they received a call for assistance at about 7pm on Saturday night after the tunnel between Braddell and Bishan became flooded with rainwater.

related: So, will MRT work on Monday?

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NSL disruption: No train services between Newton and Ang Mo Kio stations 'till further notice'
SMRT staff at Bishan MRT station giving commuters advice on alternative travel routes on Sunday (Oct 08). Train services between Newton & Ang Mo Kio stations are down 'till further notice' due to flooded tunnels. Foto: Najeer Yusof/TODAY

Train services between Newton & Ang Mo Kio stations on the North-South Line (NSL) are down indefinitely, SMRT said on Sunday (Oct 08), adding that more time was required to clear water from tunnels that crippled operations & frustrated tens of thousands of commuters from Saturday evening.

"Work to clear water in the tunnels between Bishan & Braddell MRT stations is still in progress," the rail operator said in an update on social media at 8:30am on Sunday. "As the effort requires more time, we are unable to resume train services between Newton & Ang Mo Kio stations till further notice."

The transport chaos began around 5:33pm on Saturday, when SMRT halted train services between Bishan & Toa Payoh MRT stations "as a precaution" due to flooding in the tunnel from Bishan to Braddell MRT stations, following a heavy downpour. In a separate incident, a small fire on the trackside in the tunnel between Marina Bay & Raffles Place MRT stations was also reported, though the flames later died out on its own.

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Flooded tunnels caused massive disruption to train services, affecting thousands of commuters
Train services on the North-South Line were called after water flooded the tunnel from Bishan to Braddell MRT stations

Train services on the North-South Line were disrupted from the late afternoon on Saturday (Oct 7) after water flooded the tunnels stretching from Bishan to Braddell MRT stations, train operator SMRT said.

The tunnels were apparently flooded during torrential rains. Adding to SMRT's woes was a trackside fire between Raffles Place & Marina Bay stations.

The massive disruption along the key line forced services from Ang Mo Kio to Marina South Pier to be cancelled for safety reasons.

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Track point fault causes delays on East-West Line on Thursday morning
The crowd at Tampines MRT at 7.45am on Sep 28, 2017.ST FOTO: TAN SUE-ANN

Commuters on the way to school & work on Thursday (Sep 28) morning experienced train delays on the East-West Line that lasted about 3 hours.

In a tweet sent at 5.53am, SMRT advised commuters to expect an additional 30-minute travelling time between Tanah Merah & Pasir Ris stations due to a track point fault.

It added that the fault was not linked to the new signalling project.

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Train delays add to PSLE pupils' stress

His heart sank when he saw the crowd at Pasir Ris MRT station. It was a big day for him - the 1st day of the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) - & the trains had been delayed.

The boy, who is 12 and goes to a school in Tampines, was flustered. He managed to catch a bus but was 10 minutes late for school assembly.

"I was anxious & worried throughout. I called my mum, who told me to call my teacher, who said to just come to school," said the pupil, who declined to be named.

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Long queues and crowds at MRT stations along East-West Line due to 'train fault'
Commuters are seen waiting at the platform at Simei MRT. (Foto: Gene)

Huge crowds and long queues formed at some MRT stations along the East-West Line (EWL) on Tuesday (Sep 19) during the morning rush hour.

Announcements at the stations, according to commuters, said there was a train fault that caused delays from Tanah Merah to Pasir Ris.

Commuters started posting on Twitter about a fault along the line around 7:40am.

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Track fault results in hours-long train delays on East-West Line

Train services on the East-West Line were delayed for up to 15 minutes for more than four hours on Wednesday morning (Aug 30).

SMRT first alerted that there would be a delay from the Jurong East MRT station to Redhill MRT station at about 8.15am on Twitter. The delay was due to a track fault and was not linked to the new signalling project, it added.

At about 12.30pm, SMRT said train services have resumed.

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Disruptions to train service on North-South Line, parts of East-West Line due to signalling fault: SMRT

Train services on the North-South Line (NSL) and a part of the East-West Line (EWL) were disrupted on Wednesday (Jun 28) due to a signalling fault on a new system being tested, transport operator SMRT and the Land Transport Authority (LTA) said.

It came a day after SMRT and the Land Transport Authority (LTA) warned that that there could be potential delays on both lines in the coming weeks as engineers perform "intensive performance checks" for a new signalling system beyond the June holiday period.

In a joint statement on SMRT's Facebook page, LTA and SMRT said that initial investigations point to failure in the radio communication network of the new Communication-Based Train Control (CBTC) system, which is currently undergoing intensive full day testing.

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Delays on North-South Line again this morning, but SMRT assures it’s not due to the new signaling project

Train services on the North-South Line faced severe delays once again due to a track fault in the morning rush hour today, but SMRT assured that it was not linked to the new signaling project. As if that’d make commuters any happier about getting their journey derailed yet again.

SMRT announced the track fault at 7:32am, alerting commuters to add another 15 minutes to their traveling time from Yew Tee to Jurong East MRT stations.

The subsequent congestion prompted the transport operator to advise commuters heading to the Central Business District to take the south-bound train instead towards Marina South Pier.

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MRT's East West Line hit by track fault; delays expected

The East West Line of the MRT was hit by a delay due to a track fault on Wednesday morning (30 August), according to SMRT’s Twitter at 8.13am.

Commuters were initially advised to add 10 minutes of train travel time from Jurong East to Redhill stations, with that delay subsequently extending to 15 minutes.

According to SMRT, train service is still available.

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North South Line hit by delay due to track fault

The North South Line of the MRT has been hit by another delay. According to a tweet from SMRT, commuters were advised to add 15 minutes of train travel time from Yew Tee to Jurong East stations.

Thus, SMRT advised commuters travelling towards the Central Business District to take the train service “through Woodlands towards Marina South Pier”

Last week, both the North South Line and Downtown Line were hit by long delays of up to 45 minutes.

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Wonderful way to welcome the weekend!

What a terrible week for transport. Right off the heels of SMRT SVP’s incredible testimony on why the Bukit Panjang Light Rail Transit (LRT) wasn’t as ‘up there’ as one might think, and last night’s (Aug. 17) evening peak disruption on the North-South Line (NSL) due to – what else – faults with the new signalling system, Singapore woke up this morning to another double tragedy:

Both SBST and SMRT put up their notices about Downtown Line (DTL) and NSL at about the same time, before 6.30am. Train services on the NSL were unavailable between Marina South Pier and Sembawang.

SMRT advised commuters to seek alternative transport or MRT lines if heading towards the city.

Signalling fault causes delays on North-South Line and Downtown Line during Friday morning peak hour

Commuters were hit by another round of train delays on the North-South Line & Downtown Line during Friday (Aug 18) morning's rush hour, following a 2-hour delay during the evening peak hour the day before.

The North-South Line saw a 3-hour delay while the Downtown Line was disrupted for about an hour.

At 6.30am, SMRT tweeted that an additional 45 minutes travelling time was needed between Marina South Pier & Sembawang on the North-South Line due to a signalling fault.

'Can't you use GPS?': A train delay, a bus ride gone south and a day to remember

Bishan MRT station was a picture of chaos on Friday morning (Aug 18). Meandering lines at the taxi stand, warm bodies amassed at the bus stop, the air thick with frustration as irate passengers vented at SMRT staff on the ground & each other.

Small wonder. They were facing yet another breakdown in train services - this time, the North-South Line (NSL) that was dogged by signalling faults which started around 6.30am and took about 3 hours to resolve.

At the height of the service disruption, Bishan MRT station was overflowing with a sea of passengers who had tapped out - some after withstanding an hour-long ride from Ang Mo Kio, just one stop away - and others newly arrived & apprised of the situation.


SMRT is struggling to pinpoint and rectify the cause of the signalling fault that is continuing to beset the NS Line. The hopeless PTO has posted two Twitter updates notifying commuters to “plan ahead” due to “longer traveling time.”

[NSL]: Our engineers are working hard to continue their checks and investigations. Our staff is ready to assist.

[NSL]: If you intend to travel on the North-South Line later, pls plan ahead. You may experience longer train travel time.

PSLE Students Queue For ‘Excuse Pass’ After Train Breakdowns Make Them Late For Exams

While train faults have become so regular that it happens nearly every other day, the train breakdown on Friday (18 Aug) had more severe implications on a particular group of Singaporeans.

Primary 6 students who were heading to school to take their Primary School Leaving Examinations (PSLE) oral examinations were delayed from reaching school on time after train faults caused delays on the North-South Line (NSL) and the Downtown Line.

Commencing yesterday with the English oral examinations, Primary 6 students will be completing their Mother Tongue Oral examinations today.

Friday Morning Train Delay: Second Peak Hour Delay in Two Days due to Signalling Fault

MRT commuters were certainly a frustrated bunch this morning (oh, tell us about it…). At about 6.30am, SMRT informed commuters that an additional 45 minutes travelling time would be needed on the North-South Line between Marina South Pier and Sembawang.

The cause – signalling fault. SMRT later advised commuters to take other MRT lines or other forms of transport if they were heading to the city.

The Downtown line was also hit.

Train Delays, Commuters Khaw-Beh-Khaw-Boo

There was much ado about our transport system that it almost felt like we were watching reality TV yesterday. And it’s not just the Lee family feud that is gripping this nation’s headlines, Khaw managed to step into the limelight this week, sharing the #1 spot.

I have lost track of the number of train breakdowns in recent weeks – from trains up in smoke to signalling delays, to faulty supervision systems, to commuters falling onto the tracks – there is an entire smorgasbord of things that can go wrong should you ever decide to take the train.

Our transport minister, Khaw Boon Wan, on the other hand blames the main stream media for hyping it. He has in fact been drumming into our heads that the train system is three times more reliable and that the state-run-media has gone tabloid.

Commuters forced to guide bus drivers when control room failed to direct drivers during MRT breakdown fiasco

In what appears to be a bizarre turn of events during the massive MRT breakdowns on Thursday and Friday, commuters were seen guiding confused drivers of free shuttle buses activated by SMRT because no directions were provided from SMRT’s operations control centre.

That’s right, drivers who were activated to help out during the peak-hour delays had no idea where to go and how to get there because control room staff who were supposed to provide directions did not do so.

One commuter, Ong, shared an account of what happened on the free shuttle buses this week.

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DTL and NSL affected by signalling fault on Friday morning

Commuters were met with yet another service breakdown on Friday morning (18 Aug) since the service disruption along North South Line during the Thursday evening rush hour.

At 6.29am, SMRT announced that commuters are to expect 30 minutes of additional travelling time between Sembawang and Marina South Pier stations due to a new signalling system fault near Ang Mo Kio. The same location where the signal fault responsible for yesterday's service disruption allegedly occurred.

Even up till 8.30am, the fault has not been rectified and delays in service remained at 30 minutes.

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Mainstream media took 3 weeks to state the obvious about MRT reliability against LTA’s statistics
MRT statistics won’t restore public confidence?

I refer to the article “Statistics alone won’t restore confidence in MRT” (thenewpaper, Aug 19).

It states that “Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS) economist and senior lecturer Walter Theseira said it is quite difficult for the public to reconcile their train disruption experiences with the statistics provided by the Government, which claims that overall rail reliability has improved”.

Mainstream media was late by 23 days? Why did it take about 23 days for the mainstream media to as I believe to the best of my knowledge – to write about how ridiculous the statistics announced by the Government on 27 July was – that “the MRT system’s reliability has improved by three times since Mr Khaw Boon Wan moved to the Transport Ministry in 2015, but the minister wants to raise the bar much higher”? (“Khaw Boon Wan sets new rail network reliability target as MRT becomes three times as dependable as in 2015” (Straits Times, Jul 27)

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