Antenna fault causes Bukit Panjang LRT train to skip 3 stations: SMRT

Jelapang station on the Bukit Panjang LRT.
Jelapang station on the Bukit Panjang LRT. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - A train on the Bukit Panjang LRT (BPLRT) that failed to stop at three stations last Thursday (July 28) had suffered a fault to its antenna, operator SMRT said.

In a statement posted on its Facebook page on Monday (Aug 1) afternoon, it said the faulty antenna prevented the train from picking up the signal to stop at Jelapang, Senja and Bukit Panjang stations.

The antenna ensures trains stop accurately at each station.

SMRT was responding to a Facebook post by housewife Jacqueline Bong detailing her experience on the train, which she described to The Straits Times as "alarming" and "scary".

Having completed a regular yoga session near Segar station, the 40-year-old said she had boarded the train at Segar station with a friend at around 11.45am.

She said: "I usually walk from Segar to my daughter's kindergarten at West Spring Primary (located between Segar and Jelapang stations) to pick her up, but it was raining heavily that day and we decided to take the LRT even though it was just one stop."

"When the train did not stop at Jelapang, we tried pressing the emergency button but it was not working. A man in my train carriage also picked up the emergency phone and tried calling but there was no response," she said.

"The train's speed was quite fast and the it also did not slow down as it usually does at corners."

Ms Bong said the two-carriage train, which contained about 20 passengers, ended up stopping just before the platform at Phoenix station after another commuter used her mobile phone to call a number listed in the train.

An SMRT staff member subsequently arrived and forced open the train's door, before driving the train to the platform where everyone alighted safely, she added.

Ms Bong, who lives in Choa Chu Kang, said she takes the BPLRT every day but that this was her first time encountering such an incident.

In her Facebook post, Ms Bong questioned why the train's emergency button and phone were not working.

SMRT said Ms Bong was probably referring to the train's emergency halt request button, which could only be activated when a train comes to a complete stop at a station, which prevents it from moving off again.

The BPLRT Operations Control Centre (OCC) also received separate alerts from commuters through the station intercom, the train's emergency phone and through the OCC hotline, it added.

SMRT explained that the OCC had imposed a "speed code restriction", which allowed the train to stop before Phoenix station.

While Ms Bong also said that she felt that the train had been moving quite fast, SMRT confirmed that it did not exceed 55kmh during the incident.

BPLRT trains typically operate at between 30kmh and 55kmh.

"The train was later withdrawn to the depot for further checks. All equipment in the train, including the emergency phone, are checked before the train is put into service each day," it said in its statement.

"We would like to reassure all commuters that our staff will not hesitate to take immediate action as safety is our top priority."