‘Someone took a fire extinguisher to break open the glass’

Trains came to a sudden halt and the electricity went out, leaving passengers stranded with no lights or air-conditioning on Thursday evening.

Some passengers resorted to breaking a train window to get air into the cabin; at least one woman was said to have fainted.

Riders who were evacuated walked through the underground tunnel to the next MRT train station.

These were some of the scenes reported by those among thousands of commuters hit by a massive outage along SMRT’s North-South Line on Thursday evening.

According to an SMRT spokesperson, the train fault started at 6:56pm and affected stations in both directions from Bishan to Marina Bay.

Preliminary investigations showed that about 40-metres of power rail was damaged between City Hall and Dhoby Ghaut stations, the operator said.

It has closed North bound train service between Marina Bay and Bishan stations for the night.

At about 8pm, the transport operator added that its staff were on site attending to the fault. It pledged to work round the clock to repair the damage and hoped to get the north-bound train service for this stretch up by Friday morning.

At 11:43pm, it said on its website that train service had resumed at 11:40pm.

North bound service from Ang Mo Kio to Jurong East stations, as well as all south bound train services were running. The East West and Circle Line train services also continued as normal, according to the operator.

The train service disruption, the second in days, prompted Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew to pen a quick note on his Facebook page at 10:45pm pledging a thorough check on Singapore’s train systems.

Writing from Cambodia, he said, ““I am especially concerned over the well-being of the people who were reported to be trapped in the trains for an extended period of time before they made their way to safety.”

“I have asked LTA to assemble a team of relevant experts, including possibly relevant overseas experts to help us in this review,” he said, acknowledging that there have been “a number of train disruptions in recent days”.

To determine if these are isolated incidents or whether there are “systemic and more serious underlying issues”, the government will conduct a “thorough health check on our train systems, determine how the faults happened and also whether the maintenance, communication and recovery processes were adhered to and can be further improved,” he stressed.

Meanwhile, a dedicated one-way bus bridging service from Bishan to Ang Mo Kio stations and a two-way bus bridging service between Marina Bay and Ang Mo Kio station were available to help commuters, SMRT said.

Yahoo! Singapore reader Andy Loong said he was stuck inside a train for more than 45 minutes with no lights and air-condition.

“Nearly no air and someone took a fire extinguisher to break open the glass for air flow,” said Loong.

Another reader Melvin Huang said that he was stuck in the train between Orchard Station and witnessed a woman fainting in the train.

“The driver is not talking to us. We managed to force open a door,” he added.

Many commuters have also complained about SMRT’s bad communication of the disruption.

Skyee Alfonso said, "Bus bridging service was only activated after an hour. No instruction and no help was given by SMRT staff to show the commuter where to take the buses."

Themis Thng agreed and added, "Commuters at Raffles Place MRT Station did not even know about train service (being) down as the on screen panel only reflects "Do not board". No station master at the station telling them also. No announcement heard either."

National serviceman Muhammad Nur Ikhlas sent in a video of him stuck on the train and evacuated by MRT staff.

Comments are back and can be made below. Check out photos from the outage here

(Additional reporting by Alicia Wong and Jeanette Tan)