Software issue causes train disruption on North-South Line

Signalling fault between Newton and City Hall leads to long delays in morning peak services

A software issue with the signalling system on the North-South Line (NSL) caused significant delays to train services for nearly five hours yesterday morning.

The signalling fault occurred between Newton and City Hall stations at the start of train service, and commuters travelling between Bishan and Raffles Place experienced delays of about 45 minutes.

The delays also led to congestion at several stations, including Ang Mo Kio, Toa Payoh and Novena.

Trains had to be driven manually at a slower speed along the affected stretch due to the fault, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) said. Operator SMRT and systems provider Thales later rebooted the signalling system at about 10am as a precaution to fix the fault, it added.

SMRT said it had wanted to "keep train services moving during the morning peak and fix the technical fault after the peak".

There were no train services between Toa Payoh and Marina South Pier for about 10 minutes as engineers from both firms reset the system.

Train services resumed after the fault was cleared at 10.10am.

SMRT first alerted commuters to the fault on its Twitter page at 5.47am and deployed free bridging bus services between Toa Payoh and Marina South Pier stations.

In its initial tweet, SMRT told those travelling between Raffles Place and Toa Payoh to add 25 minutes to their journey times.

Subsequent updates by the rail operator increased this to 35 minutes, and then 45 minutes, with the delays extending to Bishan station.

SMRT said it deployed more than 150 staff to help affected commuters and manage peak-hour crowds.

Announcements were made in stations and on trains throughout the incident, telling commuters to make alternative travel arrangements, it added.

But Mr Daniel Chan, 47, who had boarded a train at Khatib station at 6.55am, said he learnt of the signalling fault only at Bishan station.

The business development manager was on his way to work in MacPherson when he was told the train he was on would terminate at Ang Mo Kio.

There was no announcement about the fault, he said, adding that the trains were packed and social distancing was "non-existent".

Mr Chan, who was also affected by a train fault two weeks ago, said: "Not everyone follows SMRT on Twitter or Facebook, especially aunties and uncles...

"If we were told at the start of our journey (about the fault), we would have opted for an alternative mode of transport."

Yesterday's fault is the second MRT fault in two days, after a power fault halted train services on the North East Line between Punggol and Serangoon stations for three hours on Sunday morning.