MRT power fault: I was stuck on train for 3 hours, says commuter

Mr Ryan Koh was on a train heading home from Clementi to Yew Tee when the disruption occurred, leaving him stuck on the train for three hours, on Oct 14, 2020. PHOTO: RYAN KOH
Commuters at Jurong East interchange waiting to take the bus after a power fault disrupted train services on Oct 14, 2020. ST PHOTO: GAVIN FOO
Crowds waiting at the bus stop outside Queenstown MRT station after a power fault disrupted train services, on Oct 14, 2020. ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

SINGAPORE - Finance executive Ryan Koh, 29, spent nearly three hours in a train after a power trip disrupted service along stretches of three MRT lines on Wednesday (Oct 14).

He was heading home from Clementi to Yew Tee when the power fault occurred. The train he was on came to a halt inside the tunnel between Bukit Batok and Bukit Gombak stations.

"Some lights went out immediately and the train came to a stop slowly. I was expecting a minor delay but now I am stuck for almost three hours," he said.

When The Straits Times spoke to him at around 9pm, he said the majority of people in the train had left after SMRT staff started evacuating commuters at around 8pm.

Senior citizens were asked to move to the back of the train to disembark, he added, estimating that about 70 people remained on the train after evacuation ceased. He did not manage to leave as "the queue was long and slow".

Most commuters remained calm and informed family members about the delays, he added.

However, SMRT staff stopped detraining passengers at around 9pm due to heavy rain and lightning risk, he said.

At around 9.40pm, the staff told the commuters to be seated and confirmed that the train would be moving to Bukit Batok.

Mr Koh, who received a complimentary voucher for one train ride, said he was tired and hungry. "I just want to go home as soon as possible."

The power fault had disrupted service between Woodlands and Jurong East on the North-South Line, between Gul Circle and Queenstown on the East-West Line, and between HarbourFront and Serangoon on the Circle Line.

A major breakdown during the Covid-19 pandemic raised fears among commuters like Mr R. Fong.

The 28-year-old concept artist, who was stuck on the train at Kranji from 7.04pm to 8.24pm, said he was "definitely worried about Covid-19 because social distancing on the train is non-existent".

Some commuters posted photos on social media of stations with the lights out, including at Yew Tee, Boon Lay and Joo Koon.

Police officers speaking to commuters at Jurong East station, after train services were disrupted on Oct 14, 2020. ST PHOTO: GAVIN FOO

Mr Leslie Lim, 23, was withdrawing money at an ATM at Boon Lay station when the power fault occurred.

He walked to the station after the machine went off, but realised commuters were not being allowed into the station.

The national serviceman then checked SMRT's Twitter page, which told commuters to expect additional travelling time. This confused him, he said, as station staff had informed commuters that services were not available.

He then took a private-hire ride home to Sengkang - a journey that he said cost him $36 instead of the usual $24 due to surge pricing.

There were 30 to 40 people around who were confused, he added. "There really wasn't any (safe distancing measures) and neither was it really being enforced because of the chaotic situation. Some of the staff were busy answering questions such as what buses to take, sometimes surrounded by two to three people."

Shops at the ground floor of Jurong East MRT station were also affected by the power outage.

While the lights outside the shops had come back on, staff at the darkened Mr Bean outlet were using their handphone torchlights to serve customers.

Passengers coming down from the train platform in Jurong East station after train services were disrupted because of a power fault on Oct 14, 2020. ST PHOTO: JEAN IAU

At 9.30pm, one staff member who wanted to be known only as Madam Chang, 47, told ST that the electricity went off suddenly at about 7pm and has not been restored since.

"This is the first time this happened... We might have to throw all the drinks inside the fridge and the pancakes are all cold already," she said.

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