Lack of info more irksome than rail breakdown itself

A poster at Ang Mo Kio MRT.
A poster at Ang Mo Kio MRT. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

All things undergo wear and tear, no matter how advanced the technology is. I can understand if trains break down and cause delays. However, it is not the delay that angers passengers, but the lack of information given while waiting in the dark.

I was among those caught in Monday night's train disruption caused by a power fault ("Train services along 4 lines disrupted"; yesterday).

After the train pulled into a station, the lights at the station suddenly went out.

The train driver made a soft and muffled announcement that no one could understand.

Announcements from the station could barely be heard in full as they were also too soft for passengers inside the train to hear.

I gave up after 10 minutes and decided to alight, only to see chaos in the pitch-black station.

SMRT staff were giving out leaflets that were supposed to provide information on alternative ways to travel to other stations. Unfortunately, not all affected stations were listed, so it was unclear how I could get to my destination.

Compared with transport systems in many other countries, our MRT system is still one of the best.

Since train breakdowns are becoming rather frequent, SMRT should look into how to react in such situations.

Drivers and station staff should be trained to give clearly enunciated announcements that explain what is causing the delay, as well as an estimated waiting time, so that passengers can decide if they want to carry on waiting or look for alternative means of transport.

Leaflets on alternative ways to get to other stations should include all affected stations.

Within each station, passengers can be grouped according to the different places they intend to travel to, so that staff can help to direct people more efficiently.

Let us hope train breakdowns can become less chaotic with each experience that we learn from.

Koh Shu Yi (Ms)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 27, 2016, with the headline 'Lack of info more irksome than rail breakdown itself'. Print Edition | Subscribe