Train fault on Bukit Panjang LRT, passengers walk on tracks

Passengers walk on the tracks to the nearest station after being stranded on a Bukit Panjang LRT car, on May 19, 2018.
Passengers walk on the tracks to the nearest station after being stranded on a Bukit Panjang LRT car, on May 19, 2018.PHOTO: ST READER

SINGAPORE - Passengers in a train on the Bukit Panjang LRT system were stranded in the car for up to half an hour on Saturday (May 19), eventually walking on the tracks to the nearest station.

A Straits Times reader sent in photos and videos of people inside the train car, taken from her home nearby. Other images show passengers walking on the tracks, including a woman with a pram.

The reader, who gave her name only as Ms Lee, said: "Rescue forces came at about 2pm, and people were seen walking out at 2.03pm."

It was drizzling while they were walking on the tracks, she said.

Facebook user Simon Neo posted photos of passengers stuck inside the cabin and walking on the track towards Petir station.

LRT services from Choa Chu Kang to Bukit Panjang towards Senja resumed at 2.40pm , while services towards Petir resumed at 3.50pm. Free bridging bus services were provided during the service disruption.

SMRT vice-president of corporate communications Margaret Teo said two BPLRT trains encountered faults at around 1.45pm and services were temporarily suspended while its engineers accessed the tracks to rectify the faults.

About 90 passengers from the two affected trains were safely detrained and guided to the nearest LRT station by its staff.

Preliminary investigations indicate that the first train had stalled due to the dislodgement of its current collector shoes, said Ms Teo, adding that SMRT is still investigating the fault with the second train.

“We are sorry this has affected your Saturday afternoon. Plans are underway to upgrade the BPLRT system to minimise the occurrence of such faults,” she said.

In response to queries, a Land Transport Authority spokesman said works to renew the BPLRT network have already commenced and will take several years. The renewal will enhance the power rail with more robust rail brackets and relocate the joints to less severe curves. This will reduce the chance of the current collector shoes dislodging.

Other works include replacement of the legacy signalling system with a wireless Communications-Based Train Control system and replacement of the first-generation Light Rail Vehicles with new and improved ones, said the spokesman. The new vehicles will be equipped with redundant vehicle controllers, better door operating systems and condition monitoring features.

In tandem with the renewal works, LTA is also working with SMRT during the extended engineering hours to intensify its preventive and corrective maintenance regime, he added.

The train fault comes a day after a brief train fault caused delays on the East-West Line, and two days after a platform screen door fault caused delays on the North-South Line.

Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan had said on Friday (May 18) that overhauling BPLRT was the only viable option.

Last year, BPLRT trains travelled an average of 53,000km before encountering a delay of more than five minutes, which pales in comparison to the Sengkang and Punggol LRT’s reliability of 115,000km before a delay.

In 2015, a dislodged collector shoe resulted in a 1½ hour breakdown affecting 10,000 commuters.

Mr Khaw said the overhaul by Bombardier – which supplied the original system – will take up to 2024.