East-west line delay due to problem with switching mechanism: Janil Puthucheary

SINGAPORE: A railroad fault at Clementi MRT station, which caused delays on the East-West Line (EWL) on Wednesday (September 19), was due to a problem with the shifting mechanism, said former Transport Minister Janil Puthucheary.

The error was resolved and the train services resumed more than six hours after SMRT sent a tweet about the problem for the first time at 7.10 am.

During the morning rush hour commuters had to deal with delays and SMRT said they would add approximately 30 to 40 minutes of travel time between Boon Lay and MRT stations in Queenstown. Free bus services were provided between the two stations.

SMRT tweeted that the problem had been resolved at 1.35 pm and that the trains were gradually returning to normal speed.

At 13.50 hours it was said that the services had been resumed and the free bus services had been terminated.

Photographs showed great pressure on the affected MRT stations during the morning rush hour and commuters were advised to use the North-South line via Woodlands and Ang Mo Kio to go to town instead.

Speaking on the sidelines of the start of an engagement exercise for the next master plan for land transport, Dr. Puthucheary said: "We have identified the problem, it is with the switching mechanism.

"We could have taken a decision to stop services and allow (authorities) to concentrate solely on repairing the problem, but that would have had a major impact on the work experience. we now take trains late passing (but it is) slowing the commute. "

Dr. Puthucheary added that delaying the movement of trains – instead of stopping – for the commuters was "on balance better".

But he stressed that both SMRT and the Land Transport Authority (LTA) needed "a little bit of time to determine exactly what the problem is with the switching mechanism".

"The SMRT and LTA technicians are on the ground and I expect that this will be resolved within a few hours," he added.

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