Problems with Circle Line driverless system

There are some flaws in the current driverless train system of the Circle Line.

I have encountered two situations similar to Mr Ronnie Neo Soon Heng's ("Improve train door safety"; last Thursday), where the train door suddenly closed in less than 10 seconds - on Oct 8 last year and March 3 this year - despite a huge crowd still alighting from the train.

Safety features were not working on those two occasions ("Train door safety: SMRT replies"; yesterday).

The train doors did not reopen upon hitting something, and did not close with less force when the gap became narrower. As a result, many passengers were badly hit by the doors on both occasions.

The train schedule should take the size of the crowd that needs to board and alight at each station into consideration, and not attempt to cut short the train dwell time at each station in order to catch up with the planned schedule.

This is especially so whenever there is a breakdown or delay earlier in the day, causing the crowd at most stations to grow.

But instead of allocating more time at each station, the driverless system seems to be shortening the time a train stops at each station in order to catch up with the delayed schedule.

This actually makes the situation worse because many passengers are not given sufficient time to alight and are forced to alight at the next station and take the opposite train back, adding more delay to their journeys.

Likewise, many of the boarding passengers in the queue would not have a chance to board the train despite there being empty space vacated by alighting passengers.

Wong Boon Hong

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 19, 2015, with the headline 'Problems with Circle Line driverless system'. Print Edition | Subscribe