Train commuter's two days of hell

This article is more than 12 months old

After enduring Tuesday's blackout, woman is then late for work by an hour that day and yesterday because of train delays

This week cannot end fast enough for a train commuter after she endured three unfortunate events in two days.

The 29-year-old Jurong resident, who wanted to be known only as Ms Anne, could not believe her bad luck when she was affected by a major disruption on the East-West Line (EWL) yesterday morning.

The day before, she was also hit by a EWL delay caused by a platform screen door fault.

Both incidents occurred after her home was hit by a massive blackout that affected 19 areas across the island in the early hours of Tuesday.

Yesterday's EWL disruption, which was caused by a fault in a track point, lasted for about seven hours, affecting thousands of commuters who faced delays of up to 40 minutes during morning rush hour.

As Ms Anne can attest, it was the second disruption on the line in two days. Four of the five delays tweeted by operator SMRT since last month have involved the EWL.

SMRT first tweeted about yesterday's delay at 7.10am. It said in a Facebook post at 8.45am that train services had to be stopped between Clementi and Jurong East stations to allow its technicians to check the fault.

It apologised to affected commuters while advising them to add 40 minutes of train travel time. At 2pm, SMRT announced on Facebook that regular service had resumed.

In a statement last night, SMRT said its staff checked the fault and assessed that train operations could continue but at a slower speed.

SMRT decided to keep trains running during morning rush hour and scheduled work on the faulty point machine - used to control train movements at rail junctions when trains move from one track to another - to start after the peak period.

"This would allow EWL commuters to travel from Jurong East towards the city, and commuters to travel from the city to the interchange station at Jurong East," it added.

"After the morning peak, engineering staff went down to the track in between service and fixed the point machine at 1.20pm.

"This arrangement required EWL trains at Jurong East and Clementi to halt temporarily for up to five minutes every time the engineering staff went on (the) track to carry out repair work.

"The team accessed the track six times. After the fault was rectified, train services returned progressively to normal speed."

Not all trains were affected, but services slowed down intermittently in the east.

SMRT said free regular and bridging bus services were made available between Boon Lay and Queenstown.

To ease congestion while the fault was being fixed, SMRT also sent four additional trains to Jurong East and another two to Clementi to serve commuters heading to the city.

Ms Anne told The New Paper that she learnt of the delay at Pioneer station at around 8.15am.

When she went to take a free shuttle bus, she was dismayed to find there were only normal feeder buses heading to Boon Lay interchange.

She waited 20 minutes for a JustGrab car to take her to Ng Teng Fong Hospital in Jurong East, where she works. She paid $25 for the ride, which normally costs $10.


She was late for work by over an hour, just as she was on Tuesday after the delay caused by a platform screen door fault.

Other commuters such as full-time national serviceman Tan Yong Quan, 22, and student Er Yan Rong, 20, who works part-time, said they were late for work by about an hour.

Some commuters, however, were resigned to the situation.

A 34-year-old executive administrator, who did not want to be named, told TNP that when she found out about the delay, "I rolled my eyes and thought, 'Oh, here we go again.'"

Senior Minister of State for Transport Janil Puthucheary said that while a decision could have been made to stop train service to fix the track point fault, it would have had a "very big impact on the commuter experience", The Straits Times reported.

The eventual decision to keep trains moving meant the service was slowed down, he told reporters on the sidelines of the launch of the SG Mobility Gallery yesterday before SMRT tweeted that it had rectified the fault.

"We thought, on balance, that was better for the commuters, but it does mean that it is going to take a little bit of time to ascertain exactly what the problem is with the switch mechanism."