Forum: Major train disruption must not happen again

SMRT staff guiding commuters stranded in trains as they walk along the train tracks on Oct 14, 2020.
SMRT staff guiding commuters stranded in trains as they walk along the train tracks on Oct 14, 2020.PHOTO: ST FILE

Since statistics have been published periodically to convince the public that the trains are more reliable, it was both surprising and saddening to learn that the recent train disruption was the worst of its kind to hit the MRT network since 2017 (Bid to fix fault led to disruption of 3 MRT lines, Oct 16).

SMRT revealed that the incident started with the breakdown of the insulation of a power cable in Tuas on the East-West Line. As the circuit breaker did not work, the power system of other train lines tripped. This brings into question the effectiveness of the maintenance works done regularly through early MRT line closures and late openings.

With the avoidable concurrent failure of three train lines taking place when many people are still working from home, SMRT must take the opportunity to put in place system protocols to prepare for the full reopening of the economy.

The public transport operator must also take good care of its employees so that these necessary protocols can be carried out safely and efficiently in a supportive working culture.

It is the national examination season for students now, and parents should not have to bear the added worry of an unreliable train network affecting their children. The crowded bus stops, closed MRT stations and long hours of delay can be very upsetting.

Citizens have confidence that our newly appointed Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung will not be complacent and will ensure that such disappointing major transport disruptions will not happen again.

Many would agree that this one incident is one too many. We must all continually work together for Singapore to come back stronger in the post-pandemic economy.

Terence Ho Wai Loong

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 19, 2020, with the headline 'Major train disruption must not happen again'. Print Edition | Subscribe