At a technical briefing on Wednesday SMRT said that it was still “not 100 per cent sure” what the root cause of the disruption was – it could have been train, track or power issues.
Mainstream media outlets reporting from the briefing said that inspections had found water leakage at the Tanjong Pagar tunnel, while cables in Bishan were found to be worn out.
SMRT CEO Desmond Kuek apologies to commuters, and said the company would be engaging external consultants to help figure out the problem, as well as taking measures to renew the system and install condition monitoring tools.
Also at the press conference was the Land Transport Authority’s CEO, Mr Chew Men Leong. Noting that the disruption inconvenienced about 250,000 commuters, he said taht engineers had worked overnight to find out the root cause of the power trip, and they would “continue to do our checks and minimise such occurrences.”
The platforms and stations were jam-packed on Tuesday night as faults on both the North-South and East-West lines left commuters stranded last evening, 7 July.
Services resumed early this morning, but SMRT has warned that trains would be moving slower than usual.
As people crammed into free buses or tapped despondently on taxi-booking apps last night, anger once against resurfaced against both transport company SMRT and the government for the latest worst breakdown.
Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew said that he was “extremely concerned” about the breakdown, but today told the press he did not believe another Committee of Inquiry (COI) was necessary. A COI had been convened following breakdowns in 2011.
“I think it is more useful to make sure that SMRT and LTA concentrate on finding the definitive cause of those incidents, because if you can find the definitive cause, you can take the necessary corrective actions, and then you have a certain peace of mind that you have resolved those faults that have caused the disruption, so I think that’s where we need to concentrate our effort right now,” TODAY reported Mr Lui saying.
Meanwhile, Secretary-General of the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) Chan Chun Sing thanked SMRT workers after last night’s ordeal, while Iris Tan – whose father is an SMRT employee – wrote of her father’s efforts to deal with the problem while apologising to irate passengers.
This latest breakdown was even larger in scale than the breakdowns in 2011 that led to not only a COI but also the resignation of SMRT’s then-CEO Saw Phaik Hwa. Saw also resigned as director of SMRT in 2012.
Public anger over this latest breakdown is set against the backdrop of SMRT’s new CEO Desmond Kuek having seen a massive increase in pay since he took the position in 2012. Train disruptions and faults have also become more commonplace, leading to criticism of SMRT for focusing more on generating revenue from commercial outlets in MRT stations rather than on maintenance of the train lines.