'Packed like sardines': 2.5-hour NEL MRT disruption due to signalling fault

SINGAPORE – A signalling fault halted the train service between Boon Keng and Potong Pasir on the North East Line towards HarbourFront on Tuesday evening.

In a tweet sent at 6.37pm, operator SBS Transit told commuters to add 10 minutes to their train ride.

A follow-up tweet sent at 6.53pm said commuters could expect their train rides to take about 20 minutes longer.

As at 7.13pm, SBS Transit said that free bus rides had been made available at designated bus stops from HarbourFront to Farrer Park.

The operator then recommended that commuters at HarbourFront, Outram Park, Chinatown, Dhoby Ghaut, Little India and Serangoon stations use other MRT lines instead.

Mrs Grace Wu, SBS Transit’s vice-president for customer experience and communications, said trains had to be manually driven at a much slower speed as they travelled from Potong Pasir to Boon Keng due to the signalling fault on the tracks at Potong Pasir station.

“This initially added an extra 10 minutes to travel time but it later increased to 20 minutes due to the slow travelling speed at the affected sector,” she said.

A commuter posted on Tata SMRT – a Facebook community page for public transport users – that there was hardly any space for them to manoeuvre, as the platform was packed with people waiting for the evening train.

Prior to arriving at Dhoby Ghaut station, the train stopped momentarily in the tunnel, said Ms Zeen Tng, who was on her way to a dinner meeting.

“When the train arrived at the station, it was quite bad. It stopped moving there too and everyone was packed like sardines since the train and the station were full,” said the 23-year-old, who works in the advertising industry.

Student Gabriel Foong said the train issues seemed to have cropped up earlier, at about 6.15pm.

The 23-year-old had boarded the train at Little India, and the train had stopped at the station for longer than usual.

“While the train was moving to Dhoby Ghaut, I could hear a loud rattling sound even though I was listening to my music at full blast,” he said.

“The rattling got so bad that an SBS Transit staff member standing in between two cabins told us commuters to shift to the back of the train.”

In an update at 8.52pm, SBS Transit said that normal train service had resumed as engineers carried out interim repairs to a damaged signalling cable.

Full repair works will continue during engineering hours on Wednesday morning and investigations into the incident are ongoing.

This article was first published in The Straits Times. Permission required for reproduction.


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