Power fault causes 6-hour disruption on North East Line
LTA, SBS Transit probing incident on NEL as initial investigations point to broken contact wire
The Land Transport Authority (LTA) and public transport operator SBS Transit are investigating the more than six-hour-long disruption to train services on the North East Line (NEL) that affected peak-hour traffic yesterday morning.
Initial investigations show the delay was due to a broken contact wire that affected power supply to trains leaving the Sengkang depot, SBS Transit said in a statement.
Train services at Punggol, Sengkang and Buangkok MRT stations were affected, and SBS Transit said it operated a shuttle train service on one platform between the stations from 5.36am, the start of service. It also provided free bridging bus services at the affected stations.
Repair works were carried out after the morning peak period, and the operator said it shut off power supply to the tracks between Hougang and Punggol stations to facilitate repair works. It announced the temporary closure of the stations at 10.40am.
In the meantime, shuttle trains ran between Serangoon and Hougang MRT stations.
Repair works were completed by 11.49am and normal service resumed at 12.14pm, said the operator. It said there was regular train service between HarbourFront and Serangoon MRT stations, at a frequency of about nine minutes during the disruption.
The operator apologised for the inconvenience caused.
The measures were insufficient to completely ease the crowd build-up during the peak hour at Punggol and Sengkang MRT stations, which are the main hubs of two LRT networks.
Some commuters reported delays of up to 40 minutes in their journeys. Mr Chew Zhi Kang, 30, was turned away at Buangkok MRT station after SBS Transit stopped all train services there for repair works.
"The (service staff) said (the service) was down only from Punggol to Buangkok, so I thought it would be safe to take (the train) at Buangkok," said the engineer. "I missed the bridging bus and never expected it (the breakdown) to last so long."
Some commuters said the directions given by SBS Transit staff were confusing. The signboards did not display the train's end destinations, and commuters had to rely on the announcements to figure out the destinations.
Undergraduate Angie Peh, 20, said she was directed by SBS Transit staff to take the free bridging bus service to Buangkok MRT station to hop on the NEL, but by the time she arrived, the station had been closed for repair work.
Some commuters expressed concern over possible exposure to the coronavirus.
Madam Hor Mei, 68, who waited for the bridging bus service at Sengkang MRT station, said: "Usually there are not so many people. I've got my mask, but I was a little afraid of the crowd."