SINGAPORE - Twenty-eight people were injured when a stalled SMRT train was hit from behind by another one at Joo Koon MRT station on Wednesday morning (Nov 15). By evening, three of the injured remained hospitalised.
The collision took place at around 8am, during the morning peak hour when trains are usually packed. The first train had stalled as it entered Joo Koon MRT.
The incident led to major delays on the East-West Line. At the same time, the Circle Line was hit by a major disruption said to have been caused by a door fault.
Twenty-three passengers and two SMRT staff sustained light to moderate injuries, and were taken conscious to the National University Hospital (NUH) and Ng Teng Fong General Hospital.
Another three passengers sought treatment at Ng Teng Fong General Hospital later in the afternoon, bringing the total number of injured treated there to 13.
All injured passengers were on board the second train, which had 517 passengers in all.
Passengers who were hurt suffered various injuries, from face injuries to a broken tooth. One commuter also fainted during the incident.
The two SMRT staff injured were the driver of the second train and an assistant station manager who was helping to detrain passengers on the stalled train.
SMRT said it will be in touch with the 26 passengers who have sought medical assistance for their injuries. The rail operator added that any other passengers who were injured can approach staff at any station to inquire about the compensation process.
A spokesman for Ng Teng Fong General Hospital said the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) took two patients, assessed to have sustained injuries under the Priority Level 2 (P2) category, and eight patients who were under the Priority Level 3 (P3) category to the hospital in Jurong East.
Medical care at emergency departments is attended to based on patient conditions and assigned priority levels, where P2 patients would require faster attention than P3 ones.
The two P2 patients who are hospitalised at Ng Teng Fong General Hospital for treatment and observation have moderate injuries and are in stable condition, added the spokesman.
Out of the 15 sent to NUH, one declined treatment and returned home, while 13 received treatment and have been discharged. One passenger is still currently hospitalised for observation.
The Ministry of Transport, Land Transport Authority (LTA) and SMRT said in a statement that they are in touch with these injured passengers to offer the necessary assistance.
The Straits Times understands that the incident has to do with a malfunction of the new signalling system.
The SMRT and LTA said in a statement that at 8.18am, a train heading westwards in the direction of Tuas Link station stalled at Joo Koon station on the East-West Line.
About a minute later, a second train stopped behind the first train, but soon after, moved forward unexpectedly and "came into contact with the first train".
Mr Alexandru Robu, 35, was riding on the westbound train on the East-West Line when it came to a sudden halt just before Joo Koon MRT station, causing passengers to lose their balance and fall. “I’ve experienced sudden stops before on the MRT, but this time, it was really bad,” Mr Robu, a service coordinator, told The Straits Times.
Passengers who posted on social media said that a number of those on the moving train fell when the two trains made contact.
The SCDF was alerted at around 8.30am. It sent one fire engine, five ambulances and two support vehicles to the scene.
SMRT and LTA are investigating the incident.
Joo Koon station was closed to passengers after the incident till around 11.20am. When The Straits Times visited the station, more than 50 personnel were seen at the site at around 11.35am, but it was unclear what work was being done.
At about 2pm, SMRT said services in both directions between Boon Lay and Tuas Link will be suspended for about two hours.
"This is to facilitate the recovery of the two trains involved in this morning’s incident at Joo Koon MRT station," it said in a Facebook post.
Sports adviser Samuel Ng, 48, who was on a train from Pioneer that pulled into Joo Koon station at around 8.50am, noticed that it had been diverted to the opposite track. "I thought it was unusual, but I just assumed that the train (on the other track) had stalled. I didn't know they had collided," he said.
Mr Ng, whose journey from Pioneer to Joo Koon took 40 minutes, realised something was wrong only when he saw commuters queueing to get out of the affected trains, and spotted police and SCDF officers at the station.
A female employee in her 30s who works at a snack shop in FairPrice Hub, next to Joo Koon station, said she learnt of the incident from some customers.
"There was a male customer who said he had fallen when the train came to a sudden stop. But he did not give details, he just said it hurt quite badly," she added.