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    Nov 26, 2015

    Traction power fault downs N-S Line amid morning peak

    A TRACTION power fault caused train service at several stations on the North-South Line to be disrupted for more than two hours yesterday during the morning rush hour.

    It is understood that an estimated 70,000 commuters were affected.

    The Land Transport Authority (LTA) said in a statement that preliminary investigations had revealed a power breaker located at Ang Mo Kio Station was damaged.

    The disruption, which affected the service between the Yishun and Bishan stations, was first announced by rail operator SMRT at 5.54am.

    It activated free bus services - and later shuttle services beefed up with additional buses from SBS Transit - throughout the length of the disruption. SMRT staff were assisted by LTA enforcement officers and the Traffic Police to manage the crowd and traffic congestion.

    The timing of the disruption resulted in huge crowds at the affected stations, with long queues forming at bus stops and taxi stands near the stations.

    Irate commuters took to social media to air their complaints about the disruption, which caused many to be late for school and work. Some were late for examinations.

    Singapore Management University student Yeo Wen Da, 23, said he was late for his computational thinking exam. He added: "I waited for buses opposite Yishun MRT for 15 minutes but could not get on any of them."

    At Yishun interchange, snaking queues - some as long as 150m - for buses were seen as commuters attempted to figure out alternative routes to get to work.

    Instagram user @djdixon posted a photo of a large crowd gathered outside Yishun station, claiming that "hundreds of people" were waiting anxiously for either a taxi or the next bus.

    Train service resumed at 8.11am, SMRT said.

    LTA said it had informed the Singapore Examinations and Assessment Board (SEAB) of the disruption and subsequent arrangements, in view of the GCE A-level English Literature examinations conducted yesterday morning.

    SEAB assured affected candidates that they would not be penalised for being late and would be given the full duration for the exam.

    Speaking to reporters at Ang Mo Kio Station after the disruption at around 9am, SMRT managing director Lee Ling Wee apologised to commuters for the inconvenience caused.

    He said commuters were advised by SMRT staff to take an alternative route via Jurong East into the city as it had "reinforced crowd control" at the station.

    Mr Lee also clarified that the latest disruption was not related to the previous disruption on the North-South Line three days ago. It was also not connected to the massive July 7 breakdown that crippled both the North-South and East-West Lines during peak hour, which affected more than 400,000 commuters.

    LTA chief executive Chew Men Leong described the latest disruption as a "localised" one and said LTA worked closely with SMRT to provide alternative bus services.

    "We tried our best in terms of the recovery of the situation by diverting commuters on services north of Yishun or south of Bishan," Mr Chew added.

    "I would say that in this situation, action has been taken quite quickly. We will continue to enhance rail reliability and will investigate the situation to find the root cause."

    Earlier in the morning at around 5.50am, the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) said it put out a fire at Ang Mo Kio Station using two 9kg fire extinguishers. No injuries were reported.

    It was not immediately clear if the fire and the disruption, which occurred at roughly the same time, were linked.