SMRT in a statement regarding the correction of a track point fault along the East-West Line (EWL) between Jurong East and Clementi MRT stations on Wednesday morning (19 Sep) which resulted in rush hour delays and massive congestion at the stations, explained that "train services between both stations were stopped for about 30 minutes" after the fault was detected to enable its ground staff to be deployed on track and "to check a faulty point machine, which is used to control train movements at rail junctions when trains move from one track to another."
In the Facebook post, SMRT added that the ground staff "inspected the point machine and assessed that train operations could continue, but at a slower speed."
"As a precaution, when train services resumed 30 mins later at about 7.40am, the trains travelled at a reduced speed when passing the track point," it said.
SMRT noted that it had originally planned to resume services as usual "during the morning peak with the aim of fixing the fault after the peak period," as it would still enable passengers intending to go on the EWL "to travel from Jurong East towards the city, and commuters to travel from the city to the interchange station at Jurong East."
SMRT announced that it had "deployed more staff to assist service ambassadors to manage the peak hour crowds at EWL stations," adding that "commuters were advised to add 40 minutes to their EWL journey" while the fault was being rectified.
The corporation provided alternative means of transport for travellers of the EWL who were affected by the track point issue:
To ease congestion, we sent four trains to pick up commuters travelling towards the city from Jurong East and another two trains to Clementi to serve commuters travelling towards the city.
Free regular and bridging bus services were available to commuters between Queenstown and Boon Lay MRT stations.
SMRT concluded the post with an apology "to everyone affected" by the disruptions.
While many netizens remain disgruntled with the upper management of SMRT, they have generally lauded the efforts of its ground maintenance team in rectifying the track point fault.
Syed M Daniel said:
Although the rectifying works took more than 5 hours, the P-way/engineering team worked hard to fix the switching point of the switch. Bravo to the hard work of our unsung heroes.
Liang Hong Zhu wrote:
While blaming SMRT for not maintaining the system well, we shall still THANK these ground engineers for the hard work under the tropical sun…
Shirley Cheung said:
Thank you to all the ground engineers, technical officer and maintenance support staff for working so hard for our convenience.
Khairullah Kamisan wrote:
Kudos to the technical officer plus assistant engineer on site... Not an easy task under the hot weather...
Md Syahmi said:
Give them credits, some of them were about to go home & this thing happened. They were called back to work just to rectify this point issue underneath the scorching sun. Well done maintenance team!
Yau Chun Huan commented:
Let’s hope that the results of the investigations are made public. Kudos to the engineering staff for their hard work, but there should be some form of accountability - how the problem arose and what can be done to stop it from recurring next time.
Derrick Ng commented:
Thank you SMRT ground staff and engineers for the effort. Not all the useless management and paper General, only know how to cut cost and try to keep on increasing fares. Btw where are those paper General CEO and Transport Minister?
Andrew Lim wrote:
We thank the engineers & technical officers who were there to rectify the error. However, if the train system really needs thorough repair works & maintenance, l hope that the management does not hold back in employing more people to do the job every night. The 1st CEO has done a very bad job, leading to the problems we faced today.
Patrick Ho wrote:
After so many years of disruptions... Have they found out the root cause of the problems? Is it because of the weather... Previous poor maintenance... Sub-standard parts... Too many commuters etc.? Sorry for the [ground] staff.
Maryanne Low Ambrosio commented:
What is frustrating?
Sure, the breakdowns.
Yet, what is more frustrating is why can't contingency plans be taken into consideration, such as moving trains not directly affected by the point of fault as quickly as possible to the nearest interchange station, so that commuters have more options to take any free shuttle bus services available OR switch to another detour line to get to their destination the soonest with the least public congestion?
Travelling from Pasir Ris to just Paya Lebar took an extended 45 minutes delay when the fault at Clementi was remote enough to give ample time to at least speed up the jam-packed train to Paya Lebar. Instead, there was a delay of 10-15 mins at each station. Justifiable?
Sadly, poor strategy!