"To have two incidents over two days is very unfortunate and frustrating," acknowledged the Land Transport Authority (LTA) in a statement about recent faults affecting MRT service over two consecutive days on Mar. 28 and 29.
LTA explained that the incidents occurred on two separate MRT lines, and said that different reasons were behind the fault in both cases.
"We apologise for the inconveniences caused," it said.
"We will have to continue to dive into root causes whenever incidents like these happen and take firm actions," said LTA, adding that maintaining rail reliability will be a continuous task.
More details on the two incidents
In its statement, LTA addressed the two incidents, providing more details to what happened and why.
North-South Line: signalling fault on Monday, Mar. 29
The North-South Line experienced a signalling fault between Newton and City Hall stations.
The signalling fault meant that trains had to be driven manually at a slower speed along the affected stretch, resulting in delays of up to 45 minutes for affected commuters.
Free bus bridging services were provided.
Based on preliminary investigations, there was a software issue with the signalling system, said LTA.
LTA said that SMRT and Thales engineers rebooted the system after morning peak hour service, "as a precaution to rectify the fault," adding that the signalling system is now working normally and train services have resumed.
LTA is working closely with SMRT and Thales to look into the root cause of the incident and said that it will provide an update from the investigation.
North East Line: power fault on Sunday, Mar. 28
LTA's statement also elaborated on the disruption of service on the North East Line, which occured in the morning on Sunday, Mar. 28.
The disruption was due to a power fault at the Overhead Catenary System (OCS) at Buangkok station, which was caused by a faulty insulator. The OCS supplies power to the trains.
LTA said that train service "has since been running smoothly" ever since it was resumed within three hours of the initial fault.
The affected insulator on the OCS has been replaced, and there is also an on-going programme to replace the insulators with a better designed version, LTA said.
The agency added that it is working with SBS Transit to accelerate replacement of the rest of the insulators by June 2021.
Netizens raise concerns about increased ridership from Apr. 5
Netizens and affected commuters responded to the news of the train breakdowns by highlighting concerns over safe distancing and train capacity, in light of the recent announcement that work-from-home would no longer be the default mode of working, from April 5.
Safe distancing continues to be a legal requirement in public places, as per the Covid-19 (Temporary Measures) (Control Order) Regulations 2020
However, there is an exception for those who are in a lift, a vehicle, or public transport-related premises like bus interchanges and MRT stations, and safe distancing is not mandatory in such settings.
Safe distancing stickers commonly seen around Singapore were removed from public transport on June 1, 2020.
Then-transport minister Khaw Boon Wan said that on public transport, "there will be times when safe distancing will not be possible," in view of more workers returning to work after the Circuit Breaker.
Since June 2020, train and bus capacity were increased to the maximum to accommodate the increased demand.
Top image via SMRT on Facebook