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    Sep 21, 2016

    Morning rush hour delays on Circle Line

    AFTER a trouble-free week which followed a mysterious signalling interference that led to longer train journeys, a major disruption on the Circle Line affected tens of thousands of commuters on their way to work or school for more than three hours yesterday.

    The breakdown, traced to a track switch fault between Paya Lebar and MacPherson stations, was the single worst rail disruption in five months.

    Operator SMRT was unable to shed more light on the fault beyond saying it was on the same track switch that was hit by a glitch on Sept 5 from 8.30pm to 9.15pm.

    Commuters who were affected yesterday included public relations executive Ashley Wu, who said she was late for work by half an hour.

    "I take the Downtown Line from my home in Bukit Panjang to change to the Circle Line at Botanic Gardens," said Ms Wu, 35.

    "When I got to Botanic Gardens, the station was just so crowded. People were rushing and pushing... I could only board the fourth train."

    Ms Wu said information was not comprehensive or given quick enough, adding that if she had known about the glitch before boarding the Downtown Line, she would have made alternative arrangements.

    "Breakdowns are inevitable but SMRT needs to communicate better and also support affected commuters with breakdown slips which they can show their employers," she said.

    "My company is strict about punctuality. And I'm sure many out there are as well."

    SMRT first tweeted the glitch at 6.57am, warning of five minutes in additional travelling time. At 7.06am, it said the fault had been cleared.

    But barely 10 minutes later, it announced that travelling time from Dhoby Ghaut to MacPherson stations would take five minutes longer.

    This was revised to 10 minutes in a tweet at 7.34am, and to 15 minutes an hour later.

    At 9.53am - nearly three hours after the fault occurred - SMRT told commuters to expect an additional 10 minutes of travelling time from Dhoby Ghaut to Bishan stations.

    Free regular bus service between Paya Lebar and Bishan was made available. At the height of the disruption, SMRT staff at Bishan station were overheard suggesting to commuters to take other MRT lines to get to Dhoby Ghaut.

    Then, at around 10am, SMRT tweeted to say regular service had resumed.

    But during checks by the reporter between 10.30am and 11am, trains at Serangoon and Bishan stations bound for Dhoby Ghaut were still arriving at intervals much longer than trains bound for HarbourFront.

    Train arrival notifications were also switched off at the stations.

    The Circle Line was hit by a mysterious signal interference between Aug 29 and Sept 5.

    The yet-to-be determined interference caused trains to apply emergency braking intermittently, leading to longer and jerkier journeys for a week.

    The interference stopped as suddenly as it started.