On Wednesday evening, 14 October 2020, the North South Line, East West Line and Circle Line were disrupted for over 3 hours due to a Power Fault, leaving many commuters stranded with unsafe crowd levels and few travel options.
Despite efforts to renew and upgrade equipment along the ageing North-South and East-West Lines in the past years, including Early Closures and Late Openings along the train lines, this major train disruption has once again shaken public confidence in the reliability of the MRT system.
The disruption is reminiscent of a similar incident in April 2016, where a power dip disrupted 4 train lines in the same area for almost 3 hours.
At around 7:05pm, commuters began experiencing delays on the North South & East West Line, posting updates on social media outlets. Initial photos showed multiple stations in complete darkness, indicating a power fault event. SMRT only reported this incident later at 7:16pm.
— SMRT Corporation (@SMRT_Singapore) October 14, 2020
At around 7:55pm, commuters also reported delays along the Circle Line.
— SMRT Corporation (@SMRT_Singapore) October 14, 2020
SPRAWLING QUEUE LINES AT JURONG EAST, QUEENSTOWN AND WOODLANDS
Due to the large number of stations affected by the power fault, many commuters were left stranded. Free passing by bus services and bridging bus services were activated at affected stations, but were insufficient to cater to the large crowd. Safe distancing was not possible as buses filled to the brim.
At the worst affected station, Jurong East, long sprawling queues formed for the various shuttle buses across the temporary bus interchange. Crowds spilled onto the roads at the bus stop at Queenstown.
LACK OF DIRECTIONS, NO SHUTTLE BUSES SEEN AT CIRCLE LINE STATIONS
Commuters along the Circle Line found themselves stuck in unmoving trains at affected stations without assistance.
At 8:15pm, a packed train of commuters stalled at the Bishan Circle Line MRT Station platform. No announcements were heard to inform commuters of the train service disruption, and no staff were seen on the station platform.
At other Circle Line stations, commuters reported similar experiences.
There were also very few shuttle buses deployed to bridge train services on the Circle Line. Some commuters reported waiting over 30 minutes at affected stations without seeing a single shuttle bus.
Transport Minister Mr Ong Ye Kung shared in a Facebook post that around 115 Bridging Buses were activated on 14 Oct 2020 during the train disruptions.
Sectors operated by the various Public Transport Operators were:
- East West Line:
SBS Transit: Queenstown ↔ Boon Lay
Tower Transit: Buona Vista ↔ Tuas Link
- North South Line:
SMRT Buses: Jurong East ↔ Woodlands
- Circle Line:
SMRT Buses: Paya Lebar ↔ HarbourFront
The Yutong E12 bus made its debut on a Rail Bridging Service as well.
Response from Land Transport Authority
In an update posted on the Land Transport Authority Facebook page –
Preliminary investigations indicate that the incident was caused by a faulty power cable. LTA engineers are working with SMRT to carry out a full investigation into the incident.
[Update as of 10.38pm] Train services on the North-South and East-West Lines (NSEWL) and Circle Line (CCL) were…
|Timeline of Events – (Due to a Power Fault)
|1916||North South Line||Additional 25 minutes travelling time – Woodlands ↔ Jurong East|
|1917||East West Line||Additional 25 minutes travelling time – Queenstown ↔ Gul Circle|
|1923||East West Line||Additional 25 minutes travelling time – Queenstown ↔ Tuas Link
Free regular bus services activated – Queenstown ↔ Tuas Link
|1931||East West Line||Train Service Disruption – Clementi ↔ Gul Circle|
|1932||North South Line||Train Service Disruption – Woodlands ↔ Jurong East|
|1946||East West Line||Free Bridging Bus activated – Queenstown ↔ Tuas Link|
|1949||North South Line||Train Service Disruption – Jurong East ↔ Marsiling
Free Bridging Bus activated – Jurong East ↔ Woodlands
|2011||East West Line||Train Service Disruption – Clementi ↔ Tuas Link|
|2013||Circle Line||Train Service Disruption – Serangoon ↔ HarbourFront
Free regular bus services activated – Paya Lebar ↔ HarbourFront
|2021||East West Line||Train Service Disruption – Dover ↔ Tuas Link|
|2022||Circle Line||Free Bridging Bus activated – Paya Lebar ↔ HarbourFront|
|2027||Circle Line||Train Service Disruption – Serangoon ↔ HarbourFront
Additional 25 minutes travelling time – Dhoby Ghaut ↔ Serangoon
|2040||Circle Line||Train Service progressively being restored
Additional 25 minutes travelling time on the entire Circle Line
|2132||Circle Line||Train Service Resumed
Free regular & bridging bus service (Paya Lebar ↔ HarbourFront) ceased
|2239||North South Line
East West Line
|Train Service Resumed
Free regular & bridging bus service still available
Note: Event Timestamps are extracted from SMRT Corporation’s Twitter Feed.
On 15 October 2020, SMRT released the preliminary findings into the Power Fault on 14 October 2020.
- A breakdown of insulation of a power cable between Tuas Link and Tuas West Road stations occurred.
- A circuit breaker at Tuas West Road station failed to kicked in to isolate the fault, resulting in the North-South-East-West-Line (NSEWL) power system to trip.
- To restore power to the NSEWL, there was an attempt to draw power from Buona Vista Intake substation (BVI).
- The attempt to draw power from BVI was done without first isolating the fault, resulting in a power supply disruption to CCL as BVI also serves CCL.
- The insulation fault has been identified and isolated and the faulty component of the circuit breaker has been replaced.
- SMRT is working with the Land Transport Authority to conduct a full investigation into the premature failure of these components, together with the original equipment manufacturers who supplied the parts.