Rail Bridging Services


Rail Bridging Services (also called MRT/LRT shuttle buses, free shuttle bus services, bus bridging services, etc.) are shuttle bus services that are activated in the event of rail disruption. During periods of rail network closure, these buses would ferry affected commuters between affected stations, hence minimising the impact of rail disruptions on commuters.

Free travel is typically offered to commuters during unplanned (i.e. ad-hoc) rail disruptions. During planned closures of the rail network, Rail Replacement Services are offered instead, which are numbered bus services that charge a fare.

Most rail bridging services duplicate affected sectors of the rail network, but other special services (e.g. express or crossline services) may be offered to increase travel options for affected commuters.

Route Information
Route Plies between affected stations along the rail network
Passes Through Train stations along the affected stretch
Fares Free travel
Operator Information
Current Operator Any Public Transport Operator
Current Fleet Any available buses

List of Rail Bridging Services:


Rail bridging services are a necessary contingency. Due to the high utilization of urban rail lines, existing modes of public transport are usually unable to cope with the surge of stranded commuters in the event of a service disruption. As such, rail operators are obliged to arrange for shuttle buses that ferry commuters between affected stations.

Prior to the Bus Contracting Model, the multi-modal nature of local Public Transport Operators (PTOs) SBS Transit and SMRT meant that either operator was responsible for the organisation of bus bridging services when their network is affected. However, under Bus Contracting Model (BCM) contract terms, various route packages are allocated areas of responsibility corresponding to stretches of rail lines near their operating catchment area. These operators would be required to train Bus Captains on the assigned Rail bridging bus route, and the operator will be called upon to deploy resources in the event of a Rail Bridging Bus activation.


In the past, LTA required PTOs to activate rail bridging services when rail services are expected to be suspended for over an hour. In recent years, buses have been activated at the onset of a disruption and the first buses arrive at affected stations within half an hour after the start of a disruption.

In response to a disruption, buses plying nearby bus routes can be taken out of revenue service to be quickly deployed on the rail bridging service. Subsequently, more buses can be sent from nearby bus depots (or redeployed from other bus services) to supplement the buses already running on the Bridging bus service. Bus Captains on standby would typically be activated first, followed by off-duty Bus Captains on split-shift (during the off-peak hours), and even Bus Captains on their off day.


Rail bridging services call at affected stations along the rail network. PTOs train their drivers for emergency shuttle routes and may provide route diagrams for bus drivers to follow. Every station on the rail network has designated bus stops where commuters can board the shuttle buses and continue their journey. Directions to these bus stops are pasted prominently within train stations. Certain bus interchanges near MRT/LRT stations have dedicated boarding berths for emergency shuttle services.

While ordinary shuttle buses call at every station along the affected stretch of track, in October 2015, LTA announced special shuttle bus services which will be activated in addition to the usual bus bridging services when multiple rail lines suffer a breakdown. These services will ply four routes, in a loop: Jurong East-Choa Chu Kang, Buona Vista-Boon Lay, Bishan-Woodlands, and Paya Lebar-Tampines.

Free Regular Bus Services:

Free Regular Bus Services are activated at the onset of a disruption. Not to be confused with Rail Bridging Services, this arrangement allows commuters to board existing public bus services serving an MRT/LRT station for free at the onset of a train disruption. This encourages commuters to seek out alternative routes to their destination while helping to reduce crowds at affected stations.

Flashing beacons are installed at bus stops near MRT/LRT stations to alert bus drivers to such a scenario, and Bus Operations Control Centres (BOCCs) have also been observed to alert Bus Captains ahead of time prior to reaching the affected area. Commuters may board any public bus service for free, regardless of bus operator or fare category (basic/express).


Free travel for all commuters.

Notable occurrences (unplanned):

  • 15th & 17th Dec 2011: A five-hour and seven-hour delay along the North-South Line between Marina Bay and Ang Mo Kio on both days were the worst disruptions to hit SMRT in over 20 years. Despite the large number of buses deployed, the large-scale disruption was difficult to contain.
  • 15th Mar 2012: The North-East Line between Dhoby Ghaut and HarbourFront was suspended for almost 12 hours after a fault discovered in the early hours was not resolved until 4:35pm in the afternoon. Rail bridging services were running throughout the morning and afternoon to ferry affected commuters.
  • 9th and 10th Mar 2015: The entire Bukit Panjang LRT was disrupted due to a tie-breaker overheating and catching fire at Senja station on 9th Mar evening. Repair works continued throughout the night and was unable to be completed by start of service the next day. Full service eventually was restored that afternoon. Rail bridging services operated from the evening of 9th Mar to the evening of 10th Mar, a few hours after service was restored. SMRT also compensated commuters and residents by allowing free travel on the BPLRT till 12 noon on 11th Mar.

Notable occurrences (planned):

  • 12th & 19th Sep 2010: Train services were suspended on both Sundays between Jurong East and Clementi (on the East-West Line) and between Jurong East and Bukit Batok (on the North-South Line) respectively due to track modification works for the Jurong East Modification Project (JEMP). SMRT deployed large numbers of shuttle buses on both days.
  • 18th Dec 2011: Following the major disruptions of 15th & 17th Dec, the North-South Line, East-West Line and Changi Airport Extension were suspended on Sunday morning as engineers carried out a detailed inspection of the entire train network in what was likely the largest-scale planned shutdown of the train network. SBS Transit provided bus bridging services along the full stretch of the East-West Line, as well as the Changi Airport branch line. SMRT provided bus bridging services along the whole North-South Line.

Occurrences in 2014:

  • 11 Jan 2014: Train service between Yew Tee and Woodlands on the North-South Line were disrupted for about two hours, leading to deployment of shuttle buses between affected stations.
  • 22 Jan 2014: Train service between Tanah Merah and Pasir Ris on the East-West Line were disrupted for about an hour due to a trackside fault. Shuttle bus deployed between affected stations but train service resumed shorter afterwards.
  • 7 Mar 2014: A short disruption on the full stretch of the Downtown Line led to activation of shuttle buses for around half an hour of downtime.
  • 22 Mar 2014: A short disruption between Dhoby Ghaut and Sengkang on the North-East Line led to activation of shuttle buses, however most buses were withdrawn before starting on shuttle service as the fault was quickly resolved.
  • 6 Apr 2014: 1.5hr Service disruption between Potong Pasir and Dhoby Ghaut along the NEL.
  • 21 Aug 2014: Nine-hour disruption along the North-East Line between Sengkang and Punggol led to shuttle buses being deployed between Buangkok and Punggol.

Occurrences in 2015:

  • 18 Feb 2015: A late-night disruption between Chinatown and Potong Pasir on the North-East Line led to activation of a small number of shuttle buses.
  • 23 Feb 2015: A 3.5hr Service disruption between Yew Tee and Kranji on the North-South Line led to activation of shuttle buses deployed between Choa Chu Kang and Kranji.
  • 24 Feb 2015: A 1.5hr Service disruption between Choa Chu Kang and Senja on the Bukit Panjang LRT led to activation of shuttle buses.
  • 07 Jul 2015: An evening power fault along the entire North-South and East-West lines resulted in a disruption of about three hours and affecting an estimated 250,000 commuters. The impracticality of rail bridging services to handle a diversion of such a large scale resulted in additional resources pumped into bus routes running parallel to the rail network to ease crowds.

Occurrences in 2016:

  • 09 Jan 2016: Shuttle buses activated between Sembawang and Kranji due to an hour-long disruption between Admiralty and Kranji. SBS Transit pulled buses from 170A to help operate free shuttle services, and SMRT deployed double-deck shuttle buses for the first time.

Occurrences in 2017:

  • 29 May 2017: Activated between Choa Chu Kang and Jurong East
  • 17 Aug 2017: Activated between Yishun and Marina South Pier during the evening peak hour
  • 18 Aug 2017: Activated between Sembawang and Marina South Pier as well as the entire Downtown Line (Bukit Panjang – Chinatown) during the morning peak hour
  • 09 Sep 2017: Activated along the Bukit Panjang LRT network due to Technical Fault during SMRT’s Community Engagement Fair at Bukit Panjang ITH
  • 28 Sep 2017: Activated between Pasir Ris and Tampines due to a track point fault during morning peak hour
  • 03 Oct 2017: Activated between Punggol and Buangkok due to a train fault
  • 07 & 08 Oct 2017: Activated between Ang Mo Kio to Marina South Pier & Ang Mo Kio to Newton due to tunnel flooding at Bishan
  • 15 Oct 2017: Activated along Bukit Panjang and Beauty World due to a train fault
  • 2 Nov 2017: Activated along Punggol LRT East Loop due to a power fault
  • Nov 2017 – Several activations along the East West Line as a result of trains colliding at Joo Koon
  • 16 Nov 2017: Activated between Outram Park and Farrer Park due to a train fault
  • 7 Dec 2017: Activated between Boon Lay and Gul Circle due to a train fault

For recent disruptions (2018 and later), refer to the bridging services article of the particular train line.


East-West Line


North-South Line


North-East Line


Circle Line

Downtown Line


Bukit Panjang LRT


Sengkang LRT
Punggol LRT


North-South Line (cont’d)
SMB1550H – NSL Shuttle at Yew Tee

TIB703M – NSL Shuttle

TIB1168B – NSL Shuttle

SMB3082D – NSL Shuttle

SMB8023S – NSL Shuttle

SMB1392Y – NSL Shuttle

TIB1234T – NSL Shuttle

SMB321J – NSL Shuttle

SMB5020U – NSL Shuttle

Boarding the shuttle buses

Boarding the shuttle buses
Bukit Panjang LRT
1097Y LRT shuttle
TIB1097Y – LRT Shuttle B
SMB181X - LRT Shuttle A
SMB181X – LRT Shuttle A
698U LRT shuttle
TIB698U – LRT Shuttle B



External Links & References:

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