LTA taking steps to prevent intruders with anti-climb barriers at train tracks

MRT trains travelling on tracks. The Land Transport Authority (LTA) is taking steps to make it harder for intruders to gain access to train tracks via anti-climb barriers topped with razor blades. -- ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN 
MRT trains travelling on tracks. The Land Transport Authority (LTA) is taking steps to make it harder for intruders to gain access to train tracks via anti-climb barriers topped with razor blades. -- ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN 

The Land Transport Authority (LTA) is taking steps to make it harder for intruders to gain access to MRT tracks.

Last month, it called a tender for anti-climb barriers to be built at the Redhill MRT Station.

Topped with razor blades, the 3m-high fence will be built at the top of the Redhill MRT tunnel portal, and will prevent intruders from climbing down onto the tracks.

"This approach... is adopted after considering the need to ensure minimal disruption to train operations," said an LTA spokesman, adding that if the tracks were covered up instead, works would be more extensive and train services might be affected.

Redhill MRT Station is the first station where these new barriers are being rolled out.

The LTA said similar barriers would be installed at other stations but declined to reveal which ones.

A total of 177 track intrusions have been recorded on the MRT network since 2003.

In 2012, a man in his 20s was found dead beside the tracks in the tunnel between the Redhill and Tiong Bahru stations.

He had climbed over a locked gate at the end of Redhill MRT Station and walked east into the tunnel and towards the Tiong Bahru station.

The latest incident was in February last year, when an elderly man was found lying on the elevated tracks close to the Expo station.

The LTA is also looking to implement several other security enhancements. These include security screens which will be installed at selected overhead pedestrian bridges next to MRT tracks.

The screens are meant to prevent foreign objects from being thrown onto the tracks. Although there have not been any such cases, the LTA said it is taking pre-emptive steps.

Train operator SMRT has welcomed the additional safeguards "because such objects could pose a hazard to train operations".

"Last year, our train staff found about 200 foreign objects on our tracks," said Mr Patrick Nathan, SMRT's vice-president for corporate information and communication.

But he added that the items - which ranged from mobile devices, wallets and shoes to pieces of cardboard and clothing - were small and did not compromise train operations.

Work on the enhancements will begin next month and will be completed by September next year.

Member of Parliament Cedric Foo, who chairs the Government Parliamentary Committee for Transport, believes the enhancements will strengthen the integrity of the MRT network.

He said: "The MRT is the backbone of our public transport network; its security and service reliability should be safeguarded."

dansonc@sph.com.sg