Train collision: Seven more commuters seek treatment

Total number of those injured rises to 36; one of seven new cases brought in by ambulance

Seven more commuters sought treatment yesterday after the train collision at Joo Koon MRT station on Wednesday morning, bringing the total number of those injured in the accident to 36.

Giving an update as of 6pm yesterday, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) and train operator SMRT said in a joint statement that there was a new walk-in case at the National University Hospital (NUH), but the patient has since returned home.

At Ng Teng Fong General Hospital (NTFGH), there were five new walk-in cases. The hospital also received another new patient conveyed by ambulance who is currently being treated.

Meanwhile, three commuters who were warded for observation on Wednesday remain in hospital. No details of their conditions were given. Two are at NTFGH, and one is at NUH.

Among the 36 injured, two were SMRT employees who were treated and discharged on Wednesday.

An unprecedented software glitch in the new signalling system of the East-West Line resulted in the collision between two MRT trains at Joo Koon station.

This caused a train on the Joo Koon platform to be mistakenly profiled as a three-car train instead of a six-car one in the system after it passed a faulty circuit.

A second train, which initially stopped at the correct safety distance of 10.7m behind the first one, "misjudged the distance" between itself and the train in front of it a minute later and lurched forward, resulting in a collision.

Passengers on the second train, which was carrying 517 people, were thrown by the impact, with several suffering knocks, fractures and bruises.

One commuter was said to have suffered a face injury with a tooth broken.

Engineer Wang Hai, 38, who kept his balance by grabbing onto a pole, heard people crying and later saw a puddle of vomit in one of the cabins. "I didn't notice anything out of the ordinary, the train was pulling into the station really, really slowly. All of a sudden, we were thrown off our feet," he said.

"There was screaming and there was also a screeching, breaking sound," he added.

Mr Wang, who was in the second cabin of the train, said some of those who were injured were crying, and someone pushed the emergency button. "There was panic at first, then people started comforting or helping each other."

About 10 minutes before the incident that happened at 8.20am, a logistics planner who wanted to be known only as Miss Guo, 25, alighted from the first train.

She was waiting for a colleague at one of the shops near the passenger service centre when she heard a loud bang. "I thought there had been a car accident on the road below," she said.

SMRT said affected passengers may approach staff at any SMRT station for assistance with compensation or call on 1800-336-8900.

The Tuas West Extension, opened in June and uses a new signalling system. The rest of the East-West Line employs an older 30-year-old system, and is expected to migrate to the new one by the end of the year.

The French firm which provided the signalling system, Thales, has said that this was the first time such an incident had happened.

Following the collision, trains on the North-South and East-West lines also had longer intervals between them as a safety precaution. The two-minute interval between trains during peak hours was slowed down to between 21/2 minutes and three minutes.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 17, 2017, with the headline 'Train collision: Seven more commuters seek treatment'. Print Edition | Subscribe