SINGAPORE - Commuters travelling along the North-South Line (NSL) on Wednesday morning had their journeys disrupted after a faulty engineering vehicle got stuck near Yishun station, causing trains to stop running between Yio Chu Kang and Canberra towards Jurong East.
The disruption, which lasted for over three hours, was first reported by SMRT in a tweet at 5.46am.
The public transport operator said there was a track fault, adding that commuters would need to add 15 minutes to their train rides between Ang Mo Kio and Woodlands. Free regular bus and bridging bus services were activated between the two stations in both directions.
SMRT said in another tweet at 6.42am that there was no train service from Yio Chu Kang to Canberra. Southbound train service on the NSL was still available from Jurong East to Marina South Pier.
The operator advised passengers to avoid taking the train between Ang Mo Kio and Woodlands, and to take the Circle Line or the Thomson-East Coast Line instead.
In a Facebook post at 7.30am, SMRT said a faulty engineering vehicle deployed during maintenance hours could not be moved from the northbound platform near Yishun station at about 4.30am. Engineers had to be deployed to the site to resolve the issue.
SMRT added that it had stopped northbound train services from Yio Chu Kang to Canberra for its engineers to access the faulty vehicle. They decided to withdraw the vehicle to the depot after the end of train services on Wednesday night. In the meantime, trains were able to bypass it.
Train services from Yio Chu Kang to Canberra gradually returned to normal from 7.45am, before resuming regular operations at about 8.50am. While there were free bridging bus services available during the disruption, a commuter posted on Tata SMRT, a Facebook community page for public transport users, that there were not enough bridging buses and advised others to get alternative transport.
Photos posted on social media showed MRT station platforms and bus stops along the NSL packed to the gills, with commuters trying to board trains and buses that were already full of people.
Mr Dennis Hong, 41, waited for over an hour before he managed to board a train at Bukit Gombak station to travel two stops to Jurong East, as he needed to switch to the Circle Line at Buona Vista to reach his workplace in one-north.
The engineer said he found out about the train service disruption only when he reached Bukit Gombak station at 7.25am and heard an announcement. He said trains arrived at 15-minute intervals, but all of them were packed, so he could board one only at about 8.35am.
“The platform was very crowded and some resorted to squeezing themselves onto the trains,” he said, adding that SMRT should have put up notices to let commuters know about the longer intervals, especially since it knew there was an issue as early as 4.30am.
He also noted that there are no direct buses from Bukit Gombak heading to Jurong East, and suggested that at least one bus service should be introduced to ply this route. “The previous delays I remember weren’t as bad as this. I was supposed to reach work early, but ended up being late.”
Mr Gabriel Lim, 24, was heading to Yishun from Paya Lebar, but had to alight at Yio Chu Kang station to take a bus to continue his journey north. The fast-food worker said the bus stop near the station was very crowded, with everyone squeezing to get onto buses.
Ms Low Siew Peng, 28, who takes the bus from Yishun to Woodlands to get to work, said she was 15 minutes late as she had to wait for four buses to pass before she could get on one at her stop opposite Darul Makmur Mosque.
The accountant said she saw passengers standing on the upper deck of some double-decker buses that were packed with people.
“It was a bad experience, plus it was raining this morning. They should provide more buses and announce (the disruption) early so we can plan ahead,” she added.
Wednesday’s disruption was the first major one under new SMRT group chief executive Ngien Hoon Ping, who took over on Aug 1.
There have been at least two other train disruptions on the NSL this year. In July, a train fault caused delays of up to 25 minutes between Kranji and Jurong East. In September, a track fault led to delays of up to 15 minutes between Yishun and Toa Payoh.