SMRT: Graphics display misreading contributed to 14 Oct disruption, 2 workers suspended

SINGAPORE — An SMRT staff member’s misreading of a graphical display added to the major train service disruption that took place earlier this month.

The incident on 14 October began with a series of concurrent faults – involving a power cable fault and a malfunctioning circuit breaker – that shut off power along the North South and East West Lines (NSEWL).

The staff member then attempted to rectify the situation by drawing power from the Buona Vista Intake (BVI) substation but failed to first isolate a power cable fault that had earlier occurred between the Tuas Link and Tuas West Road stations along the Tuas West Extension.

“In drawing power from the Buona Vista Intake, the cable fault should have been first isolated. But our power staff misread the graphics display and thought that the fault had been isolated and proceeded to draw power from (the BVI), which caused a trip on the Circle Line.

“The power staff and his supervisor have been suspended from their duties. They will be required to undergo retraining and re-certification before they can resume their duties,” said SMRT group chief executive officer Neo Kian Hong at a media briefing on Wednesday (28 October).

Neo said that when the power failure first occurred, the priority was to “avoid detrainment” and when that could not be avoided, all efforts were taken to ensure that commuters who were stuck on stalled trains were guided safely back to the nearest station.

The incident began at 6.58pm and affected power to stretches of stations from Woodlands to Jurong East stations and from Queenstown to Gul Circle. At 7.34pm, the power outage spread to the CCL, affecting stations from HarbourFront to Serangoon.

In total, the service disruption lasted over three-and-a-half hours and affected the journeys of some 123,000 commuters. Of this number, 6,500 were stuck in stalled trains along the NSEWL and another 275 were caught on CCL trains.

While an additional 120 buses were deployed to ply the affected train service stretches, this led to heavy crowd congestion at various bus points.

“SMRT will also review their operation standards for power recovery,” said Land Transport Authority (LTA) chief executive Ng Lang at the same event.

“For us, the incident is a stark reminder that the work to keep our MRT network running smoothly is a never-ending journey. And it’s a journey where there’s not room for complacency,” he added.

Stay in the know on-the-go: Join Yahoo Singapore's Telegram channel at

Related stories:

'Sorry' for troubles caused by MRT breakdown: Ong Ye Kung

Power fault caused train service disruption on North-South, East-West, Circle lines