Bukit Panjang LRT stalls at morning peak hour; stranded passengers transferred to other trains

A photo shared by Ms Mary Lee on Facebook shows several SCDF personnel at a site with two LRT trains in the middle of the tracks during the morning peak hour on Jan 6.
A photo shared by Ms Mary Lee on Facebook shows several SCDF personnel at a site with two LRT trains in the middle of the tracks during the morning peak hour on Jan 6. PHOTO: TATA SMRT/ FACEBOOK

SINGAPORE - Passengers were stranded on the Bukit Panjang LRT (BPLRT) during the morning peak on Monday (Jan 6) when a train ground to a halt due to an unknown fault.

The Singapore Civil Defence Force was at the scene with a fire engine and an ambulance.

“At about 7.40am, SCDF received a call by a member of the public requiring assistance for a stalled LRT between Bangkit station and Fajar station,” an SCDF spokesman said.

“Upon SCDF’s arrival, the passengers were being transferred onto another LRT (train) to be brought to Fajar station... SCDF’s assistance was not required.”

SMRT was not immediately available for comment, but in past incidents, fire engines and ambulances were deployed in case rail operators needed help with evacuation, or if commuters needed medical attention. 

Commuter Feeza Nur Hafiza, 33, told The Straits Times that there was no public alert about the breakdown. The Fajar Hills resident only learnt about the incident around 8am when, at a neighbour’s prompting, she looked out of her block and saw the SCDF “at our carpark downstairs”. 

“I would send my daughter to school and go to work,” she said. “We would take the LRT from Senja station to Bukit Panjang. But this morning, we walked.”

A photo shared by Mary Lee on Facebook shows several SCDF personnel at a site with two LRT trains in the middle of the tracks.

Commuters took to social media to alert one another of the breakdown. Mr Paul Lee, an administrator of public transport community group Tata SMRT, wrote: "We are receiving ground reports that BPLRT is being delayed on both Services A and B. Please seek alternative transport if needed."

 
 
 

Commuter Goh Chin Kwang commented: "Bus 922 is also fully packed... Just walked from Jelapang to BP (Bukit Panjang) MRT."

Ms Sin Mei wrote on the Tata SMRT Facebook page: "The LRT train I was in stopped at South View for 15 mins since 8.05am."

Ms Eileen Khor added: "There is no announcement for the delay. Train stop at Phoenix station for 15 minutes."

There was no Twitter alert from the operator this morning.

But operator SMRT said it made “in-train announcements”. Responding to press queries filed in the morning, an SMRT spokesman said the train fault occurred “at around 7.30am... between Fajar and Bangkit stations”.

“Our engineers were immediately deployed on site to facilitate service recovery,” she said. “Train services were available on Service B at all stations. All commuters on the faulty train were safely transferred to another train, and the faulty train was subsequently withdrawn to the depot for checks.”

In tackling previous breakdowns, the operator would either deploy another train to push the disabled one to the nearest station. If that was not feasible – say in the case of a system-wide power outage – passengers would disembark and walk along the tracks to the nearest station.
Normal service resumed at around 9am. “We are sorry to have affected Bukit Panjang residents’ morning commute,” the SMRT spokesman said.

Last month, Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan said the 20-year-old BPLRT clocked 64,000 car-km between delays, compared with more than SBS Transit’s Sengkang-Punggol LRT’s (SPLRT) 300,000 car-km. 

Mr Khaw had described BPLRT’s performance as “not bad, but could be much better”. 

But he added that when upgrading works on the BPLRT are completed by 2024, it "should be able to close the gap" with the SPLRT.