Train service was disrupted along the North East Line for nearly two hours on Monday (Oct 26) - from the start of service to the beginning of the morning peak - due to a power fault, said SBS Transit.
No trains were running between Punggol and Harbourfront stations in both directions from 5.23am, when the transport operator first made the announcement on its Twitter account. At 7.21am, SBS Transit said service had resumed in both directions between Punggol and Harbourfront stations, although it told commuters to expect additional travelling time of up to 20 minutes.
Free bus rides and shuttle bus service were made available at designated stops along the line. Both SBS Transit and SMRT later said that free bus rides had been extended islandwide to all bus services. The free bus services ceased at 9.30am when normal train service resumed, LTA said.
DISRUPTION CAUSED BY TESTING OF NEW TRAIN
Preliminary investigations indicate that a new train undergoing testing damaged the overhead catenary system as it was withdrawing to the depot. The power failure affected the launching of trains for the morning service, the LTA said.
"At about 5am, while we were pulling the new train back to the depot, it looks like while returning to the station, it could have pulled the overhead power system and broke one of the wires," LTA CEO Chew Men Leong told reporters at Hougang MRT station on Monday morning.
“Engineers managed to repair it at about 7am. We will put that particular train out of service for the time being,” he added.
The exact cause of the incident is still under investigation, SBS Transit and LTA said.
SOME O, A LEVEL STUDENTS AFFECTED
With the ongoing O and A Level examinations, many parents and students were worried that the disruption would affect those taking papers on Monday.
The LTA said it has informed the Ministry of Education and the examinations board about the disruption.
"The Singapore Examinations and Assessment Board has given candidates the assurance that all students will be given the full duration allotted for the examination. The Board further assured that no student will be penalised for being late today," the LTA said in a press statement.
Student Brendan Lew, 16, who was taking the O level A Math paper at 8am, was at Serangoon MRT station at 6.40am during the disruption. His school had not informed students of what to do in event of a disruption, he said.
"I don't think they expect a major breakdown to happen - or at worst a minor one," he said. He boarded the shuttle bus instead.
"I don't really take buses, it's a great impact. If I'm too late I guess it will affect if I can take my O levels or not. But I'm not too worried - I'm still quite early."
OTHER COMMUTERS AFFECTED
Some commuters complained that instructions and signs were not clear, despite transport authorities and train operators recently holding exercises to test their emergency plans in the event of a major disruption.
"It's very troublesome - I didn't know where to go! I work at Tuas, I don't know how to get there now," a female commuter who declined to be named told Channel NewsAsia.
Added Ms Lee Mei, in her 40s: "The free buses aren't as fast. I prefer taking the train. The breakdowns are quite frequent, resulting in us being late for work."
Others were more sanguine about the situation.
"It will affect us in some way, of course. Where I work, I can also take the Circle Line. Sometimes - like during the previous breakdown - at times I take that line," said Ms Candy Chew, 49, a senior logistics assistant.
"I think this breakdown couldn't be helped, it's not a human fault. It's just like the human body, or things we use every day - it will break down sometimes. We can't blame the MRT personnel or the company running the lines; we must be understanding."