Travel Advisory for North South and East West Line Commuters

The North South Line has seen multiple delays and signalling faults during the first weekday trial of the Communications-based train control (CBTC) signalling system
Commuters are advised to plan for additional travelling time when commuting by the North South Line or seek alternative routes in the event of a disruption. Commuters should also board the train cautiously as doors close automatically under the CBTC signalling system. After the “Doors are closing” chime is heard, commuters are advised not to rush for the train. Doors were also reported to start closing before the doors closing announcement is played.

The synchronisation of train doors and platform screen doors continue to be an issue plaguing the new signalling system. Occasionally, platform screen doors fail to open when train doors open. Once again, commuters are advised to be cautious when boarding and alighting trains.

Information displays and audio announcements at stations have been known to glitch, either displaying/announcing the terminating stop of a train incorrectly or playing announcements at incorrect times. Commuters are advised to board the first train that arrives rather than waiting for the train that heads directly to their destination. Additionally, the system is unable to display whether Northbound trains terminate at Jurong East Platform A or Platform D. Hence, commuters transferring to the East West Line should be prepared to locate the correct platform after disembarking from an arriving NSL train. 

Train Faults:

On Wednesday (28 June), a major signalling fault led to temporary suspension of train services on both the Tuas West Extension and the entire North South Line. Starting at around 5pm, train services were disrupted between Joo Koon and Tuas Link, as well as the entire North South Line, leading to a total suspension of all train services for around half an hour for both affected lines. Train services progressively resumed at 6pm for both lines, but spillover delays would last until 7.30pm. During the downtime, free bus boarding was activated at all affected stations. It was the largest-scale disruption to date caused by the CBTC signalling system.

The delay was attributed to a failure in the radio communication network of the new CBTC system.

On Friday (2 June), another signalling fault resulted in train services running more slowly between Kranji and Admiralty stations during the evening peak hours. Starting at 5.05pm, passengers faced long waits and overcrowding at platforms, and lengthy journey times. Trains were turned around at Yew Tee and Sembawang to maintain services on the unaffected stretches of line. Both free bus boarding and rail bridging bus services were offered between Yishun and Choa Chu Kang, with train services resuming just before 8.00pm.

The delay was attributed to a signalling equipment known as the Movement Authority Unit (MAU) which registered a fault at around 4:48pm. The MAU fault resulted in slower train movement between Kranji and Admiralty stations. Service recovery took some time as engineers needed to troubleshoot and replace components in the faulty MAU.

On Thursday (1 June), signalling faults resulted in a widespread delay of train services along the North South Line during the evening peak hours. Starting at 6:20pm, passengers faced long waits and overcrowding at platforms, and lengthy journey times. No train service was available at Jurong East (NSL) for approximately 30 minutes at 1845hrs. Train services from Marina South Pier towards Ang Mo Kio also faced low frequencies, resulting in long queues and overcrowding at interchange stations including City Hall and Dhoby Ghaut. Trains were also reported to have stalled for over 10 minutes at Yio Chu Kang towards Marina South Pier. 

Free bus boarding was activated between Jurong East and Choa Chu Kang, and also between City Hall and Ang Mo Kio. Train services resumed at 1955hrs. SMRT attributed the delay to a glitch in the computer server used to manage train schedules. This caused all trains on North-South Line to halt. Although the back-up server kicked in quickly, operations controllers needed 30 minutes to manually reassign train schedules.

On Tuesday (30 May), wet weather during the morning peak hour put the CBTC system under additional strain, with slower journeys and more irregular train frequencies as a result.

On Monday (29 May), signalling faults were also reported on the North South Line, resulting in overcrowding at many interchange stations.

Readers may inform us of any train disruptions or delays along the North South Line in the comments section.

Find out more about the Communications-based train control here.

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