SMRT reduces evening peak-hour fleet by two

Now there will be a maximum of 116 trains, from 118 previously, to ease the electrical load

Train operator SMRT has slightly reduced its evening peak train fleet on the North-South and East-West lines in the aftermath of last month's power incident that crippled the western half of four lines.

The incident was triggered by a trip at the Buona Vista power intake station. It affected as many as 100,000 commuters on the North- South, East-West, and Circle MRT lines, as well as the Bukit Panjang LRT for up to two hours on the evening of April 25.

It is understood that SMRT and the Land Transport Authority (LTA) have reduced the evening peak fleet to a maximum of 116 trains, from 118 previously. The two trains were taken from the East-West Line.

This is to reduce the electrical load on the system, until a full investigation into the unprecedented incident is completed.

The train reduction is estimated to have lengthened intervals between trains to about 2.4 to 3.4 minutes, an increase of up to 20 per cent.

This is consistent with train arrivals clocked by The Sunday Times on Monday and Tuesday, with the average interval hovering just below three minutes.

Commuters did not seem to notice the difference.

Ngee Ann Polytechnic student Wan Liyana, 18, who takes the train from Clementi to Tampines, said she did not detect any change in waiting time or crowd size.

Engineer Jason Lou, 46, who takes the train from Choa Chu Kang to Clementi, said: "I don't think there has been a change in the past two weeks. It's the same every day."

Tech consultant Frankie San, 35, who takes the train from Boon Lay to Buona Vista, said: "Basically everything is the same, unless a train breaks down."

National University of Singapore transport researcher Lee Der-Horng was not surprised that the train reduction went unnoticed.

He noted that a reduction of two trains translates to a mere 1.7 per cent. "I think the impact should be negligible.

"Passengers have their own threshold for waiting time, and an increase of 0.4 minute is something that is unlikely to cross this threshold," he said.

SIM University Adjunct Associate Professor Park Byung Joon concurred, saying the impact is "not big enough to be noticed", especially when waiting time can vary widely.

Meanwhile, the LTA said when a new intake station on the Tuas West Extension is ready by the end of next month, it will help the Buona Vista intake station support the power load in the western region.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on May 22, 2016, with the headline 'SMRT reduces evening peak-hour fleet by two'. Print Edition | Subscribe