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Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Caught in SMRT Train

I was caught in a SMRT train today near Sembawang train station in the morning rush hour around 7.30am. I was on my way from Ang Mo Kio to Buona Vista via Jurong East direction when the train broke down. The train was unable to move at all when it broke down and it required a rescue train to help tow it away.

SMRT took more than 10 minutes before making an announcement to commuters in the train notifying them on a technical fault. Commuters, including myself, were curious as to what had really happened. I could see people making phone calls reporting to their respective superiors of a possible train breakdown and get themselves excused from reporting late for work. SMRT announced the train was unable to move at all and required a rescue train. All passengers were required to alight upon arrival of the rescue train.

We waited patiently or impatiently for a good 20 minutes before we felt our train advancing very slowly forward before halting at the Sembawang train station. The technical fault experienced by the train must had been very severe because even the automated doors were not working. The train driver had to use a "key" to manually open train doors so passengers could alight. By this time, Sembawang MRT platform was already full of passengers stranded. The rescue train was in fact a passenger train after my train. The rescue train moved forward until it was positioned nicely at Sembawang MRT platform to allow passengers on board to alight. I had not never seen Sembawang platform filled with that many passengers before. No matter how many announcements on "Please stand behind the yellow line" were made, nobody seemed to care much.

The entire incident lasted almost 45 minutes before the north bound train service resumed normal operation. I was lucky to get onto the very first train that arrived. However, there were far too many who were affected by the 45 minutes service disruption.

I wonder how much available time and money are lost today. If SMRT are to be fined by this fault, who will suffer in the end? SMRT or the public?

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