Power Fault trips 3 MRT Lines

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.

At around 7:55pm, commuters also reported delays along the Circle Line.

 

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.


Rail Bridging Services

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…

Posted by Land Transport Authority – We Keep Your World Moving on Wednesday, 14 October 2020

Timeline of Events – (Due to a Power Fault)
Time Line Affected Remarks
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.


Preliminary Findings

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.

 

 

 

 

 

9 thoughts on “Power Fault trips 3 MRT Lines

  • 16 October 2020 at 10:02 PM
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    There used to be TF50 which most of the BCs knew the route in case of breakdown but again LTA decided to end their contract.

    Reply
  • 16 October 2020 at 9:43 AM
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    Atleast if lta shortened 171. They should have kept the old route as 171e. It would have still been not so bad.

    Reply
  • 16 October 2020 at 9:41 AM
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    Now if this happened to DTL. LTA will lose face for shortening 171 and taking out 700.

    Reply
  • 15 October 2020 at 9:04 PM
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    Is it possible to go more in depth into the bridging bus operations? Things have changed quite a lot already since the last time such an occurance has happened.

    NSL and CCL bridging is operated by SMRT.

    EWL bridging is operated by TTS, SBST and GAS based on the sector affected on the EWL. In this case, it is operated by TTS and SBST. However, TTS buses terminated at Buona Vista from Tuas Link while SBST buses terminated at Boon Lay from Queestown.

    Maybe can cover on the express variants for NSL and EWL and why they did not operate it etc.

    Reply
  • 15 October 2020 at 6:27 AM
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    There you have it. A clear example of why bus services are still so very important even if it duplicates MRT lines.

    Reply
    • 15 October 2020 at 7:50 PM
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      Couldnt agree with you bro!But LTA scholars think otherwise..

      Reply

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