Traction power fault caused 2-hour train service disruption on Wednesday morning, affecting 70,000 commuters

  • All train services have been fully restored after a two-hour disruption on North-South Line

  • Preliminary investigations show a power breaker located at Ang Mo Kio station was damaged

  • SMRT managing director Lee Ling Wee apologises for the inconvience caused

Commuter situation outside Bishan MRT station at 8am. ST PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN
Commuters head into Bishan MRT station after train services resumed following a breakdown. ST PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN
Situation at Bishan MRT station gantry. ST PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN
Commuters - at Yishun bus interchange - speaking to SMRT staff seeking alternative route suggestions. ST PHOTO: YUEN SIN
Queues formed at a taxi stand at Yishun bus interchange. ST PHOTO: YUEN SIN
Queues formed outside Bishan MRT. ST PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN
Traffic situation opposite Yishun MRT station. ST PHOTO: YUEN SIN
The crowds outside Bishan MRT. ST PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN

SINGAPORE - A traction power fault caused train service at several stations on the North-South Line to be disrupted for more than two hours on Wednesday (Nov 25) during the morning rush hour.

An estimated 70,000 commuters were affected, The Straits Times understands.

The Land Transport Authority (LTA) said in a statement that preliminary investigations had revealed a power breaker located at Ang Mo Kio station was damaged.

The disruption, which affected the service between Yishun and Bishan stations, was first announced by rail operator SMRT at 5.54am.

It activated free bus services - and later shuttle services beefed up with additional buses from SBS Transit - throughout the length of the disruption. SMRT staff were assisted by LTA enforcement officers and the Traffic Police to manage the crowd and traffic congestion.

The timing of the disruption resulted in huge crowds at the affected stations, with long queues forming at bus stops and taxi stands near the stations.

Irate commuters took to social media to air their complaints at the disruption, which caused many to be late for school and work.

Singapore Management University student Yeo Wen Da, 23, said he was late for his computational thinking exam. He added: "I waited for buses opposite Yishun MRT for 15 minutes but could not get on any of them."

Train service resumed at 8.11am, SMRT said.

LTA said it had informed the Singapore Examinations and Assessment Board (SEAB) of the disruption and subsequent arrangements, in view of the GCE A-level English Literature examinations being conducted on Wednesday morning.

SEAB has since assured affected candidates that they will not be penalised for being late and they will be given the full duration for the exam.

SMRT issued commuters with excuse slips during the train disruption on Wednesday morning. ST PHOTO: YUEN SIN

Speaking to reporters at Ang Mo Kio station after the disruption at around 9am, SMRT managing director Lee Ling Wee apologised to commuters for the inconvience caused.

He said commuters were advised by SMRT staff to take an alternative route via Jurong East into the city as it had "reinforced crowd control" at the station.

SMRT managing director, Mr Lee Ling Wee (second from left) speaks to the media at Ang Mo Kio MRT station. ST PHOTO: YUEN SIN

Mr Lee also clarified that the latest disruption was not related the previous disruption on the North-South Line two days ago. It was also not connected to the massive July 7 breakdown that crippled both the North-South and East-West Lines during peak hour, which affected more than 400,000 commuters.

LTA chief executive Chew Men Leong described the latest disruption as a "localised" one and said LTA worked closely with SMRT to provide alternative bus services.

"We tried our best in terms of the recovery of the situation by diverting commuters on services north of Yishun or south of Bishan," Mr Chew added.

"I would say that in this situation action has been taken quite quickly. We will continue to enhance rail reliability and will investigate the situation to find the root cause."

Later on Wednesday, a track fault at Eunos delayed trains running between Eunos and Lavender stations on the East-West line by about 10 minutes.

Earlier in the morning at around 5.50am, the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) said it put out a fire at Ang Mo Kio station using two 9kg fire extinguishers. No injuries were reported.

It is not immediately clear if the fire and the disruption, which occurred at roughly the same time, were linked.

At Yishun interchange, snaking queues - some for as long as 150m - for buses were seen as commuters attempted to figure out alternative routes to get to work.

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Instagram user @djdixon posted a photo of a large crowd gathered outside Yishun station, claiming that "hundreds of people" were waiting anxiously for either a taxi or the next bus.

"The problem of the MRT breakdown is real," he added.

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