Power fault causes 9-hour disruption
A POWER fault on the North-East Line (NEL) shut down train services along a three-station stretch and affected close to 18,000 passengers.
Train services, which were disrupted between Buangkok and Punggol at about 6am, resumed partially at 8.40am.
The affected stretch, however, was fully restored only nine hours later at 3pm, making it one of the longest disruptions to date.
The longest disruption took place on the NEL in March 2012, when train services were shut down for 10 hours.
SBS Transit, which runs the line, said that the disruption was caused by the dislocation of two pairs of steady arms that support the wire through which the trains draw power from.
This is the first time that the arms of its overhead cantilever system have been dislodged, it said.
To help commuters complete their journeys yesterday, about 40 free shuttle buses ferried passengers between the affected stations.
Regular bus services were also free for commuters, as has been the regulation since the massive 2011 breakdown, when 127,000 commuters were affected.
In addition, more than 70 staff were at the stations to help commuters, said SBS yesterday.
Commuters, however, were still delayed by up to an hour.
"We deeply apologise to passengers for the inconvenience caused," said SBS' spokesman.
This is the fourth disruption on the NEL this year.
The transport operator was fined $50,000 in July for a disruption in March caused by staff carrying out maintenance works.
National University of Singapore transport researcher Lee Der Horng said that a possible reason for the disruption is wear-and-tear at the crossover between the north and south tunnels near Punggol.
"It's likely to be a maintenance issue as the tunnels are a safer environment for the rail system, compared to the outdoors," he said. But he noted that it was unlikely to have resulted in a dangerous situation as the power cuts off automatically when the circuit is broken.
The Land Transport Authority (LTA) and SBS are already doing overhead cable replacement works on the NEL this year. They will also replace all U-shaped bolts by next year. Two years ago, train services were disrupted when the bolts, which secure the arms, broke.
The LTA said in a statement yesterday that it will carry out its own investigation into the incident and SBS' handling of it.