Crucial step to stop trains from entering area not carried out, Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

Crucial step to stop trains from entering area not carried out

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Maintenance workers are authorised to get onto train tracks to investigate incidents even when trains are running as per normal.

Such deployment of personnel onto tracks happens two to three times a day on average, SMRT said in a press release on Wednesday (March 23).

So it was not unusual to have workers at the tracks near Pasir Ris MRT Station while the trains were in operation on Tuesday (March 22) morning.

But the team of 15 engineers and officers was supposed to have coordinated with another team at the station to stop trains from entering the affected area before they got onto the tracks.

This step was not carried out, SMRT said.

Mr Nasrulhudin Najumudin, 26, and Mr Muhammad Asyraf Ahmad Buhari, 24, were hit by an incoming train at around 11.10am.

The bodies of the two men were found motionless and they were pronounced dead at the scene by paramedics.

SMRT said in its press release: "SMRT has established a team to immediately evaluate all workplace safety procedures and has also instituted mandatory work-team level safety reviews.

"We take responsibility and apologise for the tragic accident. We express our deepest condolences to the families of Nasrulhudin and Muhammad Asyraf in their time of grief."

Sequence of events:

1) At 8.08am, a monitoring device at the tracks registers a warning.

2) At 10.54am, a team of 15 get down from the station platform, cross the track and access the walkway.

3) Led by an assistant engineer, they walk in a single file on the walkway towards the device.

4) Before they step back on the track, the team is supposed to coordinate with another team at the station to prevent trains from entering the area. But this is not carried out.

5) At 11.08am, two men immediately behind the lead assistant engineer are hit by a train.



Who was in this group of 15?

The team comprised one engineer, five assistant engineers, five technical officers and four trainees.


Were they or were they not authorised to access the tracks?

SMRT said the team was authorised "to move down from the station platform, cross the track, and access the maintenance walkway in order to proceed to the location of the device".

"Before the team is allowed to step back on to the trackway", they must "coordinate with the Signal unit at the station for oncoming trains to be brought to a stop and to ensure that no trains enter the affected sector".

"Our records do not show that this procedure took place."


Why didn't the train stop in time?

SMRT said the train, which was routed to Platform 2, was "moving in automatic mode".

"When the train captain saw staff on the track, he immediately applied emergency brakes but was unable to prevent the accident."


Why are maintenance workers allowed on the tracks when trains are in operation?

"Whenever there is a warning registered along the network during train service, maintenance staff are given track access to investigate the cause. An average of two to three such authorisations are given each day.

"At no time do we compromise the safety of staff and commuters in our efforts to keep up the required service standards."


Why was the power not turned off?

"Power to the Third Rail (which supplies power to the train) is turned off only when staff need to come into contact with the Third Rail, or carry out work on the Third Rail. In this case, this was not necessary."