SMRT says 'sorry' for latest 2.5 hour train breakdown

UPDATED (18 April, 5.05pm to include SMRT statement)

SMRT's interim chief and executive director has apologised to commuters for the latest train breakdown that affected 18,000 people during peak morning traffic on Wednesday.

Mr Tan Ek Kia said, "We are sorry for the inconvenience caused to commuters and the public. We are working with LTA and contractor to investigate the cause of the problem to prevent a recurrence."

A statement from SMRT said the cause of Wednesday's 2.5-hour partial train disruption on the Circle Line was down to an electrical earth fault at Botanic Gardens Station, which affected the train signaling system.

Based on the train operator’s assessment, train service between One-North and Bishan Stations was disrupted at 7:40 am and only resumed at 10:10am after the fault was rectified.

Free bus bridging services were offered between the two stations, and about 100 additional station staff members were deployed to assist those affected by the train disruption. 

The scene at Bishan MRT station on Wednesday mroning, however, was a little chaotic. Although a "Queue here" sign had been put up, no orderly queues were seen. Instead, there was a general mass of people milling about. No proper guidance or instructions were being announced by the SMRT ambassadors present.

Although several bridging buses were deployed, many were stuck in a queue as drivers seemed unsure where to go. Many people were thus forced to take taxis.

This is the second disruption this year wherein train service stopped completely. On 15 March, there was no train service on the North-East Line between HarbourFront and Dhoby Ghaut stations for 10 hours due to faulty power cables.

In addition, two major train delays have occurred since last week. The most recent incident happened on Tuesday morning, when a train fault at Jurong East MRT stations delayed the travel of thousands of commuters on the East-West Line.

Last Friday evening, another train fault on the East-West line caused a 30-minute service delay between Pasir Ris and Tanah Merah MRT stations.

SMRT said it is currently working with the Land Transport Authority (LTA) and its contractors to investigate the incident.

Said Colin Lim from the Land Transport Authority (LTA): “We recognise that many commuters have been inconvenienced and upset over this morning’s train service disruption on the Circle Line (CCL) and the recent incidents on both the NSEWL and the CCL. LTA has reiterated its strong concerns over these incidents to the management of SMRT.”

He added that SMRT will have to submit a report on the train breakdowns and its plans to resolve the problems.

SMRT said commuters who could not continue with their journey because of the disruption, or had to exit an SMRT train station without taking a trip but had their fares deducted, can get a refund at the Passenger Service Centre of any MRT station within the next 14 days.