RONALD LEE: SG Secure? My foot. If anything, the shocking revelations by SMRT Senior Vice-President for the Circle Line and Bukit Panjang LRT just show how badly the transport operator has compromised commuter safety.
Testifying at the Cororner’s Inquiry into the death of a man who fell on the train tracks, SVP Chia Chun Wah publicly disclosed the workings of a system that I would think is designed without any due care.
(1) Commuters are not supposed to know what the “Emergency Stop Plunger” does
If there’s an emergency on the MRT platform, what should commuters do? Press the “emergency stop plunger” located at both ends of the platform?
SVP Chia said there’s no signs telling passengers what happens if they press the plunger, and there’s no plans to put up signs telling people what will happen if they press it.
But, there’s a sign telling you how much it will cost you if you anyhow sound the alarm. Now that really puts commuters in the right frame of mind.
(2) Even if the alarm goes off, SMRT staff can just say f*ck it as they did here
When the first train hit the drunk-and-lying-on-the-tracks man, the alarm sounded.
With that alarm, the train will be forced to stop moving.
But, a SMRT station controller simply overrode the alarm with a switch, thinking that it was a mechanical failure as there had been 6 cases of the alarm going off due to such failure a month before the incident.
As a result, the train move on and the second came train came to dock and hit the man on the tracks for a second time.
A case of both human and mechanical failure this time?
(3) Commuters are not supposed to know where the emergency stairs are
Supposing you’re sober but accidentally fell on the tracks while, say, checking your handphone for Facebook updates. Then how?
There’s emergency stairs located at both ends of the platform which you can use to climb back up (if you make it there).
But, there’s no sign telling commuters about the existence of such stairs and where they are, and there’s no plans to put up signs telling you where they are.
(4) Commuters aren’t supposed to know the “safe zone” on the tracks
So how do you protect if you do fall on the track?
That’s a real possibility at train stations like Fajar LRT station, where there are no glass dividers between commuters and the tracks.
Chia says there is a safe location in the middle of the train tracks. That’s where you can avoid getting crushed to a gory pulp.
But, the zone is not marked out, and SMRT doesn’t intend to publicise the existence of such a “safe zone”
So now you know there is a safe zone, don’t forget because SMRT isn’t going to remind you.
There are 46 CCTV feeds spread out across 22 video screens in the Fajar LRT station operations control centre.
There is one person manning the operations control centre.
In this latest incident where the drunk man fell on the tracks, the operations control centre staff was busy closing the station.
So much for security.
(6) There are no system in place to detect obstructions on the track
If there’s an object on the track, there’s no way that the LRT driverless train will get a signal to stop.
This time it was a man, but if there’s something bigger next time that could cause serious damage to the train and all persons in it, it’s just too bad.
SVP Chia mentioned that LTA has a “video analytics” system to detect foreign objects on the track.
But that system is unable to send a warning to the train to stop, and we all know how many staff there are in the Operations Control Centre.
And, if that staff happens to be closing the station, then you better hope prayers work.