SMRT is 'fare game' after delay
EVERY time a train breaks down, the SMRT chief is fully aware that commuters will grumble over the upcoming fare hikes.
On Thursday, the Public Transport Council (PTC) said fares will go up by 3.2 per cent from April 6, which means every journey by adult commuters will cost four to six cents more.
Yesterday, after a train broke down about 500m from Ang Mo Kio Station during the morning rush hour, leaving hundreds of commuters in the lurch, SMRT chief executive Desmond Kuek addressed the issue squarely.
"The timing is most unfortunate, but the decision was made by the PTC...this is not an SMRT decision...The decision was taken in the full view of affordability to commuters, but also in recognition that there are operating costs that have to go into the kinds of repairs and maintenance," he said.
The incident affected almost 19,000 commuters.
It took place when a south-bound train on the North-South Line was hit by a signal fault around 8.11am.
This resulted in a power trip on the train and brakes were applied automatically as part of the safety system. The train captain tried to reset the circuit breaker but was unsuccessful, said Mr Alvin Kek, SMRT's vice-president of rail operations.
A "rescue" train had to be used to push the defective train, whose brakes had to be manually reset. There were about 1,800 passengers on both these trains.
Train services at Ang Mo Kio Station eventually resumed at around 8.55am through the middle track and, by 9.13am, all the passengers on the defective and rescue trains got off.
The knock-on effect was clearly felt. Ms Rasyidah Ismail, 28, a tax officer, said the disruption caused the commuter crowd to swell at Ang Mo Kio Station. "I had to miss five trains because they were too packed, and people were pushing to get on board," she added.
Mr Kek said: "We apologise for the delays to the commuters." He added that investigations are ongoing.
Mr Kuek said there are operating costs that have to go into the kinds of repairs and maintenance needed to keep the system safe and reliable.
He assured commuters that recent disruptions - on the Circle Line last month and the North-South and East-West Lines earlier this month - were unrelated.
"They are of serious concern to us, and our engineers are working very hard to continue to improve service reliability," said Mr Kuek.
He added that the number of train withdrawals on SMRT's network dropped last year.
In 2012, it was 3.3 incidents for every 100,000km travelled, but this fell to 2.2 last year. Mr Kuek said SMRT is targeting to bring this figure below two.
In a separate incident yesterday morning at Outram Park Station, a power trip caused a blackout at the linkway between the North-East Line and the East-West Line. Train services were not disrupted, said SBS Transit.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY LEE WAN SIM