Singapore

Injured passenger in Joo Koon MRT collision: 'I was in a lot of pain'

29 people with injuries taken to hospital after train with 517 passengers hits stalled train at Joo Koon

Miss Saw Wen Qing, 23, tumbled to the floor along with other commuters of a crowded train when it jerked to a sudden stop at Joo Koon MRT station yesterday morning.

The administrative coordinator, who felt sharp pain on her left knee and had abrasions on both knees, told The New Paper: "I was in a lot of pain... A lot of people around me were screaming."

She later found out the East-West Line train heading towards Tuas Link had hit a stalled train, which had no passengers.

She was one of the injured people in the second train.

One SMRT employee on each train and 27 commuters were taken to Ng Teng Fong General Hospital in Jurong and National University Hospital (NUH) in Kent Ridge with injuries. Two commuters had injuries categorised as "major emergencies".

Three of them were still in hospital yesterday evening.

The accident during morning peak hour disrupted train services between Boon Lay and Tuas Link stations until after 5pm. Trains ran slower through the day, which saw two other train disruptions - on the Circle Line in the morning and North-South Line in the evening.

Miss Saw told TNP at NUH: "I initially thought the train had braked suddenly until I saw reports on the collision."

The Malaysian, who was on crutches, said a doctor told her she had fractured her left knee.

The Land Transport Authority (LTA) and SMRT said in a statement that a train heading towards Tuas Link had stalled at Joo Koon.

At 8.19am, a second train with 517 passengers stopped behind it but moved forward unexpectedly a minute later and hit the first train.

At a joint press briefing by LTA, SMRT and signalling provider Thales yesterday evening, reporters were told that a software glitch in the signalling system of the East-West Line had caused the accident after mistakenly profiling the stalled train as a three-car train, instead of the actual six cars.

This led the second train that stopped 10.7m behind to "misjudge the distance" between them, causing the collision.

Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan, who was at the press conference, later told reporters: "It is an awful day today. Commuters were inconvenienced, and some even injured. We are deeply sorry for that."

Some passengers also complained about being stuck inside the train after the accident.

Mr Alexandru Robu, 35, a service coordinator told TNP: "The impact was quite huge, and 80 per cent of the standing passengers fell."

He said he was upset the injured could not seek medical assistance as they were stuck inside the train without air-conditioning for 20 minutes.

He added that the train driver said passengers had be evacuated from his cabin door in single file as he could not move the train to align the other doors with the platform. SMRT later confirmed this.

The accident was the latest setback for SMRT in a year of disruptions and incidents such as the Bishan tunnel flooding.

Dr Lawrence Loh, director of the Centre for Governance, Institutions and Organisations at the National University of Singapore Business School, described the incident as a new turning point for SMRT.

He said: "It is no longer about inconvenience for passengers. They are now getting injured. Apart from the change in management, SMRT also has to relook technical solutions."

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