SMRT has just issued its response in regards to a passenger’s experience involving a run-away light-rail train at Bukit Panjang LRT line (BPLRT) that sped past three stations on Thursday last week (28 July).
Ms Jacqueline Bong had earlier shared with TOC on how the train that she and her friend at Sengar station, sped past three stations without stopping, failing to respond to the emergency button and how the train was stopped only after a female passenger managed to get to the control station via her mobile phone.
Ms Bong wrote a letter to SMRT and subsequently posted the same message on SMRT’s Facebook page after being told that she will only be contacted 7 days later.
In her letter, she recounted the incident and asked the following questions:
- Why is the emergency button not working?
- Why no one notices the train moving non-stop till 4th station?
- Why was the emergency phone also not working at that moment?
- Why the train moved non-stop with much faster speed as usual?
- How frequent SMRT checks the emergency button and phone to ensure its functionality?
She also wrote that everyone were so scared especially when they saw another train ahead and that they can’t imagine what will happen if they couldn’t get the train to stop.
In its Facebook clarification on the incident, SMRT wrote that the BPLRT train skipped Jelapang station at 11.51 am due to a fault on the train’s antenna that ensures trains stop accurately at each station. The train was hence not able to pick up the signal to stop at the next three stations.
It said that it has confirmed that the train did not exceed 55 km per hour during this incident and assured commuters that BPLRT trains operate at a speed range of 30 – 55 km per hour depending on the gradient and turn of each section of the BPLRT network. It also added that the system is also equipped with an independent Automatic Train Protection System that ensures safe separation between trains.
Ms Bong had recounted in her experience that when her friend failed to stop the train by pressing the emergency button, she went to the other side of the cabin to press the emergency button with all her might but the train still did not stop.
In regards to Ms Bong’s account of pressing the emergency button, SMRT clarified that the button can only be activated when a train comes to a complete stop at a station, to prevent it from moving off again.
However, Ms Bong feels that SMRT’s explanation is nonsensical as the button clearly had written emergency stop button.
SMRT noted that its BPLRT Operations Control Centre (OCC) received separate alerts from commuters through the station intercom, the train’s emergency phone and through the OCC hotline.
It went on to state that an automatic alert is immediately triggered to the OCC when either the station intercom or the train’s emergency phone is used. When its OCC responded to the call from the station intercom, the call from the train’s emergency phone was put on queue. It noted that its OCC also received a call from a commuter’s mobile phone at the same time. When the OCC subsequently responded to the call from the train’s emergency phone, no response was received.
TOC asked Ms Bong for clarification on the matter and according to her recollection, there had been no attempts to reach the passengers.
SMRT wrote that its OCC imposed a speed code restriction, which allowed the train to stop before the Phoenix station and said that its staff boarded the train and drove it to Phoenix station where commuters alighted safely at the platform.
This is contrary to what Ms Bong recall, as there had been no SMRT staff at the station awaiting their arrival or to check on the status of the passengers.
The train was later withdrawn to the depot for further checks.
When asked if SMRT had answered her questions, Ms Bong said, “What can I do if it doesn’t answer my questions?”