Bukit Panjang LRT temporarily suspended as engineers carry out urgent inspections

Commuters waiting for the train at Segar station on the Bukit Panjang LRT on Wednesday morning.
Commuters waiting for the train at Segar station on the Bukit Panjang LRT on Wednesday morning.ST PHOTO: CAROLINE CHIA
Commuters waiting for the train at Petir station on the Bukit Panjang LRT at around 8.45am on Wednesday morning.
Commuters waiting for the train at Petir station on the Bukit Panjang LRT at around 8.45am on Wednesday morning. ST PHOTO: CAROLINE CHIA
Staff had to manually open the doors to the first car of a train that pulled into Bukit Panjang after almost 20 minutes, at around 9.40am.
Staff had to manually open the doors to the first car of a train that pulled into Bukit Panjang after almost 20 minutes, at around 9.40am.ST PHOTO: ZHAKI ABDULLAH
A stalled train at Segar station at 10am. Smoke could be seen coming from beneath one carriage and the smell of smoke was present in the station.
A stalled train at Segar station at 10am. Smoke could be seen coming from beneath one carriage and the smell of smoke was present in the station.ST PHOTO: CAROLINE CHIA
Commuters exit a stalled train at Bukit Panjang station at 10.40am.
Commuters exit a stalled train at Bukit Panjang station at 10.40am.ST PHOTO: ZHAKI ABDULLAH

SINGAPORE - Services on the Bukit Panjang LRT (BPLRT) were temporarily suspended twice on Wednesday (Sept 28) as engineers carried out "urgent inspections" following a track fault that crippled 15 trains the night before.

They resumed fully at 5.45pm, SMRT said. Train rides will be free for the day, it added.

"BPLRT services will be free to all commuters until the end of service today. Services will also continue to be augmented by free bus services and bus bridging until end of service," SMRT said in an update on Facebook.

Investigations into the fault are underway, it added.

Partial service, along the inner loop, resumed at 1.20pm, according to rail operator SMRT, with four trains in operation, but services were suspended again at 5.42pm.

According to SMRT, the current collector devices on trains were damaged on Tuesday evening after moving over a damaged rail joint.

It added that engineering staff had worked through the night to assess and rectify the fault.

Although trains started running at 6.40am on Wednesday, a power trip occurred less than four hours later, with preliminary findings suggesting that the damage to the train cars might have affected other parts of the track.

From 9.20am onwards, intermittent crowds built up on station platforms at Bukit Panjang and Segar stations, as commuters waited on platforms for as long as 20 minutes between trains and commuters who had boarded were asked to alight from stalled trains.

When trains did arrive, problems cropped up - including stalled trains, smoke, and stuck doors that staff had to open manually.

At Segar station, Miss Ho Xin Peng, 18, was on her way to a job interview when she met with the delay. Frustrated by the long wait, she and her mother left to take a taxi around 9.40am.

"We have been waiting since 9.15am," said Miss Ho. "This has happened before. We didn't know about the delays. It's frustrating."

A 26-year-old security officer heading home from work, who gave his name only as Farizal, said at Bukit Panjang station: "I've been waiting for about 20 minutes. Normally the wait is about two minutes."

 

Retiree Peter Wee, 70, had taken the Downtown Line from Botanic Gardens to Bukit Panjang for an appointment at Senja station.

The Balestier resident said he had waited more than 20 minutes for the LRT.

"This is my first time taking the LRT in Bukit Panjang and this happens," Mr Wee said.

Shuttle buses at Segar station appeared to have stopped running for a while after 10am, angering commuters such as Mr Tan Kok Seng, 66, who was travelling with his wife, a wheelchair user.

He said that, with BPLRT delays every few months, residents in the area had limited travel options.

"There are no shuttle buses and they won't give me a refund," Mr Tan told The Straits Times around 10.40am.

"I have to detour. It's such an inconvenience especially with my wife in a wheelchair."

The track problem caused delays on Tuesday night from about 10pm till the end of service. The damaged trains are now at the BPLRT depot at Ten Mile Junction. 

"Investigations into the incident are continuing even as engineering staff work to repair the 15 trains. We apologise for the inconvenience caused," SMRT said in its Facebook post. 

The incident also led to train service starting more than an hour later than scheduled on Wednesday, with SMRT first tweeting at 5.33am that commuters could expect a 30-minute delay due to a "power fault". 

It was only at 6.40am that SMRT announced that train service had commenced. Even then, it warned commuters to expect "degraded service" and longer travelling times.