Look Back At One Of SMRT’s Most Infamous Years Involving Disruptions, Reptiles And More
It really hasn’t been the best year for SMRT, has it?
From the infamous tunnel flooding to the train collision at Joo Koon, surely CEO Desmond Kuek – and more importantly, Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan – is looking forward to starting off the New Year with a fresh, clean slate.
Whether 2018 proves to be a better year for them remains to be seen — that’s another article for another year.
But as 2017 draws to a close, let’s look back at some of the year’s most memorable incidents involving our beloved transportation system.
Without further ado, MustShareNews presents 11 most memorable MRT incidents that happened in 2017. This includes happenings from both SMRT and SBS Transit trains.
1. Bishan tunnel flooding
In the evening of 7 October, something unusual had happened. Train services were disrupted – as per usual – but this time it wasn’t due to the signalling faults.
Instead, it was revealed that water had entered the tunnels from Bishan to Braddell MRT stations due to the heavy rain taking place all day.
As a result, 230,000 commuters were affected for over 20 hours in one of Singapore’s worst disruptions ever.
Subsequent investigations would reveal that a total of 13 staff members were responsible for the flooding. They include:
- Work Team
- 1 Senior Executive
- 2 Managers
- 5 Technical Staff
- 1 Vice President
- 1 Senior Manager
- 3 Management Executives
Amongst which, eight from the work team were released from SMRT due to their negligence and integrity issues.
Unfortunately, this incident was so major that it caught some unwanted attention overseas.
2. Criticised by Hong Kong
On 21 October, Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post wrote an article referring to our SMRT trains as a “laughing stock”.
They even compared our trains to theirs and Taipei’s.
Mentioning that despite the Singaporean Government spending hundreds of millions of dollars, Hong Kong and Taiwan’s transportation remains superior to the MRT.
Additionally, they even made a video comparing the differences between Singapore’s MRT and Hong Kong’s MTR.
The plot twist though? The person behind the article is a Singaporean.
But did you know that this wasn’t the first time an SMRT bombardier had encountered water?
3. Water leakage
Just one month earlier in the morning of 14 September, fellow commuter Randy Tan claimed to have spotted a “waterfall” at Pioneer MRT station.
Check out the video he posted on his Facebook page.
Turns out, it was because the Western region of Singapore was experiencing heavy downpours at the time.
He even said that the leaks successfully seeped into the train carriages.
Thankfully, this didn’t result in any train delays.
4. Joo Koon train collision
Speaking of incidents in the West however, who could forget when the two trains collided at Joo Koon station on 15 November?
Not only did two separate train faults already take place on the same day, a total of 38 people were injured as a result of a software glitch in the signalling system.
This led to the closure of 19 MRT stations on two Sundays in December to speed up resignalling works.
5. Lightning strike
Unfortunately for SMRT, things did not get better.
Just five days later on 20 November, it was reported that an MRT train near Bedok station had been struck by lightning which resulted in the driver being sent to the hospital.
However, as much as we like to poke fun at them, it was later reported that lightning had struck trackside equipment instead.
Furthermore, the driver’s “numbness” and “chest pains” was revealed to have been completely unrelated to the incident as well.
6. Monitor lizard found
Speaking of mother nature, SMRT staff at Bishan Depot were in for a surprise on 28 November when they found a giant monitor lizard in one of the carriages.
After several attempts to distract it with a dustpan handle, one staff bravely grabbed the reptile by its tail and successfully dragged it out of the venue.
Which is really impressive.
Too bad netizens condemned them for cruelly handling the animal.
7. Break down never say
Who could forget back in June, when the disruptions were becoming increasingly commonplace due to the “new signalling system checks”.
At this point, we were pretty much getting used to the breakdowns already. Furthermore, we could simply follow SMRT’s official Twitter for real time updates on the statuses of the trains.
Except this time, they remained silent for four days despite the disruptions.
Not once, but on multiple occasions.
8. Late for PSLE
Or when breakdowns became so regular that they actually caused some Primary 6 students to be late for their PSLE oral exams on 18 August.
Already filled with exam jitters, the students affected then had to queue – together with everyone else – for excuse slips at the station’s control center.
What was supposed to be a 20-minute journey for some resulted in nearly 2 hours.
9. Three major breakdowns in a day
Speaking of breakdowns, let’s revisit 15 November when SMRT hit the jackpot with all three of their lines breaking down in one single day.
In the early morning at 6.28am, a signalling fault between Botanic Gardens and Haw Par Villa had caused trains to move slower.
Just 10 minutes later, a fault between Farrer Road and Bouna Vista led to a huge crowd at Bishan’s Circle Line.
In the midst of Circle Line’s woes, the now-infamous Joo Koon train collision had just taken place along the East-West Line.
Just when you thought things couldn’t get any worse, the North-South Line took a hit — completing the trifecta of disruptions.
[NSL]: Due to fewer trains serving the NSL this evening, please cater additional 15 minutes train travel time. Free bridging bus services from #Bishan to #Yishun (one way) and free regular bus services between #Bishan and #Yishun (both directions) are available.
— SMRT Corporation (@SMRT_Singapore) November 15, 2017
While initially reported as delays of simply 15 minutes, commuters would take to social media to complain that they were stuck in the trains for up to 40 minutes instead.
One even tweeted that his friend managed to reach Kuala Lumpur before he got back home to Ang Mo Kio.
Really meh!! Additional 15 minutes??🙄😆
My friends message me when she was flying to KL while i was in Raffles place.. she just now messaged me she reached KL already while I still haven’t reached home in AMK 😂😂😅😝😜😒
— KING SAGAR💎 (@sagaringale1) November 15, 2017
That day must’ve been extra long for the employees at SMRT HQ.
10. Mysterious white substance
Then there was the time back in 18 April when an uncle successfully caused the entire Woodleigh MRT station to be shut down.
Initially reported as a “security incident”, trains were skipping the station as a result which unsurprisingly caused havoc among the public.
Eventually – after the SPF and Hazmat officers from the SCDF got involved – it was found that the “suspicious substance” was none other than baking flour used by the guy to mark a running trail.
Needless to say, he got arrested.
11. Cheated of nearly $10m
Let’s end off this list with what is hopefully SMRT’s final incident of 2017 — being cheated of nearly $10 million by their employees.
On 29 December, TODAY Online reported that a total of four men – including two former and one current employee – had successfully cheated SMRT into awarding $9.8 million worth of contracts to companies that they had interest in.
Over the course of five years from 2007 to 2013, line manager Zulkifli had worked with former colleagues Jamalludin Jumari and Zakaria Mohamed Shariff together with Enovation Technologies managing director Akbar Ali Tambishahib to dupe SMRT of the contracts.
The Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau had worked together with Malaysian officials to nab Jamalludin, who had fled Singapore in 2013.
It is an offence for employees to cheat their employers for their own personal gains and they will have to bear the full brunt of the law.
They each face 24 charges of cheating and could see up to seven years’ jail with a fine for each count.
Turning point next year?
To say the very least, 2017 hasn’t been the best year for SMRT .
With the signalling works projected to be completed by June 2018 however, could things finally be looking up for them? Will we finally face less disruptions and perhaps experience the “world-class” transportation system it was once known for?
Let’s hope for Mr Khaw and Mr Kuek’s sake that 2018 will be the turning point for them.
In the meanwhile, we would like to wish all our readers a Happy New Year.