Breakdowns on SMRT

SMRT warned us about the delays on its North-South Line (NSL) in late May, but commuters using the East-West Line (EWL) should be worried as well.

The latter had endured an assortment of faults and disruptions over the past two weeks, but only one was reported by SMRT on their Twitter page.

This morning (June 28), it suffered its biggest breakdown yet.

According to Twitter, Pioneer station seemed to be the most affected.

The platforms were so crowded, queues were seen forming outside the stations.

This delay was not mentioned by SMRT.

A track fault later occurred in the evening, crippling services on the newly-opened Tuas West extension.

Train service was temporarily halted across the entire NSL as well, following a “signalling fault”.

MustShareNews had earlier highlighted the SMRT Twitter page’s inactivity during the first week of trials for the new signalling system, and unfortunately their social media team doesn’t seem to have upped their game.

The latest catalogue of delays raises concerns about the EWL as commuters were not informed of any signalling tests, track repairs or replacement works. Since June 12, the delays have progressively worsened.

Here’s a recap of the latest incidents.

Monday (June 12)

SMRT was already facing the wrath of commuters caught in the morning delays on the NSL.

The notorious line had experienced another signalling fault, forcing SMRT to deploy additional bus bridging services between Choa Chu Kang and Jurong East stations.

Just moments earlier, an emergency button was activated after a lady complained she was feeling unwell.

It’s bad enough having to drag yourself to work after a weekend – the last thing anyone wants is to be stuck in a congested space while the train crawled along at a snail’s pace.

But SMRT’s day – and month – was about to get worse as service on the EWL started showing signs of trouble.

They say hindsight is 20/20, and in retrospect, perhaps The Straits Times shouldn’t have jinxed the situation.

Definitely not an ideal start to the week for SMRT.

Tuesday (13 June)

While service along the NSL improved, problems with the EWL persisted.

Stations were unusually crowded and the disruption wasn’t limited to a particular portion of the line – delays were reported near both the Jurong and Pasir Ris stations.

Some felt these errors could be attributed to the recent extension of the EWL:

A frustrated commuter came up with some ideas to make the breakdowns more bearable.


Wednesday (14 June)

Things got bad.

Like really, really bad.

It was so bad, SMRT finally felt compelled to post an update about the situation on Twitter.

Some netizens regretted their decision to take the train.

Others exploited the situation.


One summed up our frustrations succinctly.

And you can always count on Mother Nature to rub some salt into your wound.

Thursday – Sunday (15 – 18 June)

Normal service seemed to have resumed on the EWL. Those on the NSL, however, weren’t so lucky.

Monday (19 June)

The EWL was still struggling.

Netizens began to voice their concerns over the new Tuas West extension.

Some netizens took to sarcasm to cope.

Tuesday (20 June)

Besides some minor hiccups, nothing significant happened along the EWL. A major signalling fault did, however, paralyse the NSL.

A somewhat positive story did emerge from the mess.

Thursday (22 June)

You know, the usual happened.

One commuter wasn’t aware of what was going on around her.

Another started thinking there might be a conspiracy going on.

A “faith-in-humanity-restored” moment did happen at City Hall station though.

Saturday (24 June)

SMRT’s luck didn’t change during the weekends. Several netizens noted delays on the EWL during the evening peak hours.

Tuesday (27 June)

Are things going to get worse?

In a report by TODAY Online, SMRT and the Land Transport Authority (LTA) revealed that signalling tests might continue for a “few more months”. While no definite end date has been announced, the two organisations are warning commuters to expect more delays.

“Intensive performance checks” will be conducted and additional software will be deployed to stabilise the new signalling system. According to the joint statement, teething issues like the alignment of train doors and the regulation of train frequency have been ironed out.

No mention of the EWL was made.

With the NSL experiencing frequent delays, Singapore cannot afford another faulty line, especially one that connects its citizens from one end of the island to another.

Is a new signalling system being tested on the EWL that the public isn’t aware of? Is there something not quite ready with the Tuas West extension?

The deafening silence from SMRT only leaves commuters with more questions.