Stalled train causes human jam
Mr James Clifton Alexis thought the trip home on the MRT train was like any other, until the train he was on jerked suddenly.
"It stopped within seconds. Then the air conditioning in the carriages was shut down. There was some ventilation and no one fainted," he told The New Paper.
The incident happened at around 2.45pm yesterday, causing a four-hour disruption to train services between Yew Tee and Kranji stations on the North-South line.
Mr Alexis, 38, a relationship consultant, said that while there was no panic, there was a "collective annoyance" among the passengers in the carriages, .
Mr Alexis had boarded the train at Boon Lay to travel home to Yishun.
"When we arrived at Yew Tee we were stuck at the station, where we waited for a few minutes before it started moving. Then it felt like the train hit something on the track and we were stuck," he said.
"There was silence for about two minutes before announcements came, assuring passengers that we (would be) reaching the next station soon. I guess SMRT didn't want to cause a panic," he added.
Mr Alexis said SMRT sent another train and staff to "rescue" commuters stuck on the affected train within half an hour.
"A metal plate was placed between the two trains to help passengers move into the second train. What an experience. It reminded me of a scene from the movie Speed, where passengers had to transfer from one moving bus into another," he said.
SMRT staff were on hand to help passengers transfer from train to train.
The Singapore Civil Defence Force was alerted to the incident shortly after 3pm.
Its spokesman said a fire engine and an ambulance were sent to Yew Tee station. There were no injuries.
When the TNP team arrived at Yew Tee station at about 4pm, signs had been put up at the gantries to alert commuters of the disruption.
Announcements in English by the station staff also helped re-direct passengers travelling from Yew Tee to Woodlands and Yishun to the bus bay, where SMRT had free shuttle services waiting to take them to Kranji station.
"It's all well and good if you understand English. But what about the old aunties and uncles? They didn't know where to go," said sales assistant Carol Lim, 23, who was rushing to work.
Primary school pupil Jonathan Chu, 10, said he was used to taking the train from school to his home in Woodlands.
"I don't know which bus to take now. I'm scared to be lost," he said, almost in tears. But when told he was only going from one station to another and could continue his journey on the train, he cheered up.
Like Jonathan, Madam Zheng Ling, 63, only knew how to take the train from her home to Yew Tee Point Shopping Mall and back.
The Chinese national, who arrived two months ago to help her daughter-in-law with her newborn, also heaved a sigh of relief when told the bus ride was only between two stations.
At 7.33pm, SMRT said on Twitter that train services had resumed.
In a statement to the media, SMRT Trains managing director Lee Ling Wee said a train had stopped before a section of the third rail (which supplies power to the train) that was damaged.
He said although the engineers "reached the affected site quickly, they were unable to access the track because of lightning in the area".
Repair works were hampered until 5.30pm, when SMRT engineers reached the stalled train and the damaged stretch on the open viaduct.
Several damaged parts on the stalled train were removed and the train was hauled to Ulu Pandan Depot. Train services resumed at 7.25pm "but with speed restrictions imposed as a precautionary measure," Mr Lee said.
"It reminded me of a scene from the movie Speed, where passengers had to transfer from one moving bus into another."
- Mr James Clifton Alexis