SMRT has set a new record for the most number of lines to face train service disruptions at one time during morning peak hour traffic.
This, after 3 of the train lines it operates – the North-South Line, East-West Line and Circle Line – all experienced disruptions this morning.
One disruption which was scarcely announced by SMRT was the disruption of train service on its North-South Line, which took place as early as about 6.30am due to a train fault at Toa Payoh MRT station.
Some commuters reported that the delay lasted for about an hour, with train waiting times extending by up to 15 minutes at some stations.
Said commuter Joo Kuang on Twitter:
“Latest announcement that additional 10 mins traveling time from Yishun to City Halls due to #trainfault at Toa Payoh. @SMRT_Singapore has yet to tweet about this.”
Commuters voiced their anger that information about the delays was not made known to them earlier, and they only found out about the delays upon reaching affected MRT stations.
Said Michael Villado on Twitter:
“@SMRT_Singapore why is redline, almost every week got more than twice, having train fault? My 25min journey became almost an hour! I cant afford to wake up more early just because of anticipation of having train/track fault again.”
But there was little reprieve for train commuters – the East-West Line also saw train services disrupted due to a train collision at Joo Koon station.
23 passengers and 2 staff were injured in the collision, which stemmed from a malfunction of the new signalling system.
Another train service disruption also took place this morning along the Circle Line.
SMRT first reported the incident at about 6.30am, saying a signalling fault between Farrer Road and Buona Vista would require commuters to add another 20 minutes of travel time to their journey between Buona Vista and HarbourFront stations.
But commuters reported delays of up to an hour.
Just yesterday, Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan urged commuters to be grateful to the “silent, every day heroes” who work to maintain our public transport system.
Speaking at the first-ever “appreciation day” for public transport sector workers, Mr Khaw said the small group of “black sheep” SMRT staff has “tarnished the reputation of Singapore and Singaporeans” and encouraged workers to buck up.
“We cannot change the past. But let it be the turning point for SMRT, especially in its journey towards transforming its corporate culture.
Let it be the turning point after which all SMRT staff dedicate their 100% to their public responsibility to make SMRT train services reliable again. This requires an all-out effort.”
Today’s record for most number of train services disrupted during morning peak hour traffic isn’t the first “worst-ever” record set by SMRT CEO Desmond Kuek, who has helmed the transport operator for 5 years now.
The former Chief of Defence Force’s track record already includes:
7 July 2015 – Worst-ever MRT breakdown in Singapore’s history. Service on the North-South and East-West lines was disrupted for more than 2 hours. Over 250,000 commuters affected. The Trannsport Ministry in 2016 reported that major breakdowns increased by 200 percent compared to 2011.
22 March 2016 – Worst-ever track death count in Singapore’s history. Two trainee technicians killed by a train at Pasir Ris MRT station while investigating a possible track fault. The blame was put on staff negligence and safety lapses.
7 October 2017 – First-ever flooding of an MRT station. 21-hour disruption across 2 days on the North-South Line after the flooding of Bishan and Braddell MRT stations during moderate rainfall. Pump equipment was found to be faulty, and investigations led to the discovery that maintenance staff had falsified records and didn’t carry out checks on the pumps over almost a year.
And to add one embarrassment to the feathers in Kuek’s beret, the first time 2 trains ran over and killed a man before he was discovered on the tracks on 24 March 2017. Investigations have turned up gross lapses in SMRT’s safety procedures.