'Lightning strike' near Bedok MRT, train captain warded at CGH

Hannah Teoh
Senior Content Producer
(Yahoo News Singapore file photo)

An SMRT train captain has been warded for observation at Changi General Hospital (CGH), after one of the rail operator’s trains was apparently struck by lightning near Bedok station on Monday (20 November) afternoon.

SMRT spokesman Patrick Nathan said that the rail operator is currently investigating the incident as a possible lightning strike.

“A westbound train heading towards the city stalled as it was approaching Bedok MRT station. Passengers were detrained at Bedok station, and the train was withdrawn from service for investigation. After the incident, the Train Captain, who said he was unwell, is receiving medical attention,” said Nathan.

In a 9pm update, SMRT said the train captain would be warded at CGH overnight for further observation. “SMRT is in touch with the train captain and his family, as well as the doctors,” the update said.

According to The Straits Times, the incident delayed travel time between Tanah Merah and Paya Lebar stations by at least 10 minutes.

The Singapore Civil Defence Force told Yahoo News Singapore that it dispatched an ambulance to Tanah Merah station after they were alerted at 4.20pm. The Train Captain, who is in his 20s, was then conveyed to CGH in a conscious state.

Nathan added that each train is protected by a “Faraday Cage”, an enclosure formed by conductive material that blocks electric fields and electric currents such as lightning strikes. “If lightning strikes, the electric current will travel through the outside shell of the train, not through the cabin, and pass through the wheels to the track,” he said.

This is the latest in a series of rail incidents and train delays in recent months. Last week, 38 people were injured following a collision between two trains at Joo Koon station. Consequently, there will be no train service between the Joo Koon and Gul Circle stations for a month, starting from Monday.

In October, a flood in the MRT tunnel between Bishan and Braddell resulted in a major breakdown that affected some 250,000 commuters. Six MRT staff will face disciplinary action for their part in the incident.

This story has been updated to incorporate a statement from SMRT, issued at 6.03pm on 20 November 2017. This story was updated again at 9pm to reflect the train driver’s condition.