A review of safety measures has been ordered by rail operator SMRT after a train pulling into Pasir Ris Station at 60kmh ran into two trainee technical staff, killing both of them yesterday morning.
The Manpower Ministry (MOM) and police are also conducting their own investigations into the deaths of Mr Nasrulhudin Najumudin, 26, and Mr Muhammad Asyraf Ahmad Buhari, 24, both of whom had joined SMRT just two months ago.
It remains a puzzle why the pair were hit about 150m from the station, when 13 other staff who were walking single-file with them on a 0.5m-wide access walkway were unhurt. The two, who were getting on- the-job training, were second and third in the line, behind a supervisor.
SMRT said excursions onto the track level are a regular occurrence, happening a few times a month.
The crew in the incident had been authorised to walk to a point machine, which switches tracks for trains and was located about 200m away from the station.
The 11.10am incident forced the temporary shutdown of Pasir Ris MRT station, on the East-West Line, and train services to and from Tanah Merah were suspended for three hours, affecting up to 15,000 commuters. The 35 passengers who had been on the train had to walk on the tracks to the station.
SMRT chief executive Desmond Kuek said: "Exactly how it is that they (the two men) were hit by an oncoming train when there was a clear line of sight, and when there was a supervisor ahead of them, is the subject of the investigation."
No CCTV cameras are located on the part of the track where the accident took place, but SMRT said it is interviewing the other staff members who were out with the two men. Asked why the two junior staff were allowed near the tracks, SMRT Trains managing director Lee Ling Wee said: "After proper training and safety brief, it is all right for them to access the track."
Mr Nasrulhudin and Mr Asyraf were pronounced dead on the scene by paramedics. Their bodies were removed from the tracks at about 1.25pm, and colleagues could be seen in tears. Mr Asyraf's parents are in Saudi Arabia on a pilgrimage, while Mr Nasrulhudin's father is believed to be also working for SMRT.
Offering his condolences to the two families, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong posted on Facebook: "Whether it turns out to be an unforeseeable mishap, an individual lapse or a system problem, we must do our best to ensure this does not happen again."