SMRT apologises for Bukit Panjang LRT breakdown

SINGAPORE - The Bukit Panjang LRT system, which broke down earlier this evening, has resumed service, operator SMRT Corp said.

In a statement sent at 8.54pm, the operator said a train on the system stalled between Phoenix and Bukit Panjang stations at 7.06pm after a power trip. The power trip affected trains throughout the LRT system.

The Straits Times understands it was caused by a flaw in a collector shoe - a component on a train's undercarriage that draws electrical power from the system's power-supplying third rail.

"Recovery efforts were launched immediately to restore service and ensure passengers aboard the affected train were attended to as quickly as possible," a spokesman said, adding that efforts were slowed down by heavy rain and lightning.

Service resumed at 8.33pm, but free bus services will continue till 9pm, SMRT added.

"Our engineers and technicians are investigating the cause of the incident," it said.

"We are sorry for the inconvenience caused to passengers."

The line has been problematic since it opened 16 years ago, breaking down numerous times despite huge efforts to address its dependability issues.

Just weeks before this evening's incident - which resulted in passengers in the stalled train to disembark in the downpour - an electrical fire brought the system down for 24 hours in March.

Commuter Mohamed Johar, 35, said the LRT service was down when he arrived at the Choa Chu Kang interchange at 8.30pm.

Mr Johar, a vice president in a bank, said he saw a crowd of close to 200 people waiting at a nearby bus stop for the free shuttle services. He boarded the free shuttle at around 9pm to get to his home in Bukit Panjang.

"This is maybe the second or third time I've been affected by an LRT disruption in the course of the past three months," he said.

"The disruptions have become more frequent." 

The Straits Times understands that more than 10,000 commuters were affected by the LRT breakdown.