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Back-to-back signalling faults disrupt Singapore’s Downtown, North-South Lines

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by August 18, 2017 General

Early morning commuters were hit by twin disruptions on the train network, as signalling faults disrupted the entire Downtown Line for about 35 minutes and caused major delays on the North-South Line. — Picture by Esther LeongEarly morning commuters were hit by twin disruptions on the train network, as signalling faults disrupted the entire Downtown Line for about 35 minutes and caused major delays on the North-South Line. — Picture by Esther LeongSINGAPORE, Aug 18 — Signalling faults caused major delays on the North-South Line (NSL) and disrupted the entire Downtown Line (DTL) for a period this morning, frustrating thousands of commuters heading to work and students trying to reach their school on time for their Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) oral exams.

The twin disruptions, which came after yesterday evening’s peak-hour train delay on the NSL due to a signalling fault near Ang Mo Kio station, lasted for about three hours. Regular services resumed at 9am and 9.15am respectively on the DTL and NSL.

The Ministry of Education (MOE) told students who were late for the oral exams not to worry as arrangements had been made for those who arrived late, and that they did not need to pick up excuse letters at the affected train stations

This came as staff at some MRT stations were seen giving out “travel chits” to students to indicate the timings which they had entered and exited stations affected by the train delays this morning.

Transport operator SMRT first tweeted about the NSL delay at 6.29am, warning commuters of a 30 minutes delay between Sembawang and Marina South Pier both bounds. Minutes later, the delay worsened to 45 minutes.

At 6.38am, SMRT advised commuters to take other MRT lines or seek alternative transport towards the city.

However, service on the entire DTL went down at about the same time. SBS Transit said in a tweet at 6.25am that there was no DTL service due to a signalling fault.

SBS Transit explained in a statement that its first train was delayed by a signalling fault and could not be launched automatically from the depot to the Downtown Line.

Trains had to be manually driven, and the first train only started service at 5.37am at DT1 Bukit Panjang Station, seven minutes later than scheduled.

“As trains were progressively put into service, this resulted in an additional travelling time of about 15 minutes,” SBS Transit added.

Long queues formed at various passenger service centres on the affected lines, as SMRT staff began issuing excuse slips to students and office workers affected by the delay. The PSLE oral examinations were scheduled to start at 8am.

“The Singapore Examinations and Assessment Board was informed about the delay,” said Ms Tammy Tan, Senior Vice President, Corporate Communications, SBS Transit.

The Ministry of Education (MOE) also assured students that “arrangements will be made for those who arrive late”.

“You need not pick up any excuse letter at the MRT station. Just let your school know. If necessary, you will be able to take the exam at a later time,” MOE said in a statement posted on Facebook.

At 9.03am, SBS Transit announced on Twitter that train services on the Downtown Line had returned to normal.

Train services on the NSL progressively returned to normal at 8.30am, SMRT said, albeit with 30 minutes delays due to congestion at the affected stations along the line. Regular services resumed at at 9.15am, as free regular bus and bridging bus services ended.

“Signalling experts and engineers are still checking the system to identify the root cause of the problem,” SMRT wrote on Facebook at 9.22am. — TODAY

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