Train services on Thomson-East Coast Line resume after five-hour disruption caused by signalling fault

Services at the three stations on the Thomson-East Coast Line typically begin from about 5.40am every morning. ST PHOTO: MOHD KHALID BABA
A photo taken on Jan 31, 2020, showing commuters boarding a train on the Thomson-East Coast Line at Woodlands MRT station. PHOTO: ST FILE
A sign informing commuters of the signalling fault on Dec 4, 2020. ST PHOTO: NG KENG GENE

SINGAPORE - Train services on the Thomson-East Coast Line (TEL) have resumed after a five-hour disruption on Friday morning (Dec 4).

Rail operator SMRT said on its Twitter page at 10.56am that train services between Woodlands North and Woodlands South station have commenced, and that "free regular bus and bridging bus services are still available".

Earlier at 5.43am, SMRT tweeted that no services were available on the line due to a signalling fault.

Services at the three stations on the line typically begin from about 5.40am every morning.

In an update at 7.23am, SMRT said train services between Woodlands North and Woodlands South stations remained down, and that the bus bridging services remained available.

"We apologise for the delay to your journey," SMRT added.

Together with Woodlands station, the two stations fall under stage one of the TEL, which has been open since Jan 31.

In a Facebook post on Friday afternoon, SMRT said the fault was caused by a software glitch in the signalling system's network component.

As a result, the component had to be reconfigured before the system could be reset. The reconfiguration was carried out by engineers from systems supplier Alstom.

"After completing our pre-operations start-up protocol, normal train services commenced," said SMRT.

It added that in-train and station announcements were made to inform commuters of the delay and of the availability of free regular and bridging bus services between the three affected stations.

SMRT also said it deployed more than 20 staff on-site to assist affected commuters.

Friday morning's breakdown is the second to happen this year on a new MRT line.

In October, a damaged power cable between Tuas Link and Tuas West Road stations on the East-West Line (EWL) led to a series of events that caused a major MRT disruption affecting three train lines - the EWL, North-South Line and Circle Line.

The two stations are part of a four-station extension to the EWL that opened in June 2017.

In September, Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung said the completion of the six stations in the second stage of the TEL will be delayed by three months to the first quarter of 2021 due to the impact of Covid-19.

They were initially scheduled to open in late 2020.

Since July 30, services between Woodlands North and Woodlands South stations have had early closures at 9pm daily and late openings at 6.30am on Saturdays and Sundays, for SMRT to "continue testing of the integrated systems and trains in preparation for the opening of stage two" of the line.

The early closures and late openings were slated to end on Aug 30, but have since been extended to Dec 31.

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