SINGAPORE - SBS Transit suffered a disruption to its train service on the North East line between Dhoby Ghaut and Harbourfront stations this morning, and warned that service could be down on that stretch until lunchtime.
The disrpution was due to a problem with the overhead power supply system in the tunnel at Outram MRT station, according to SBS Transit. Smoke had been detected in the tunnel, according to the Land Transport Authority.
Free bus bridging services were deployed to the affected stations, which also included the Clarke Quay and Chinatown stops.
The public transport operator estimated that train service at this affected stretch would not be available for "about six hours", in a message issued to the media at around 6.35am. The LTA said on Twitter that investigations are ongoing, and the train service is expected to be restored by noon.
SBS Transit said it was working to rectify the problem, and deployed free shuttle bus services between the affected stations. It also apologised for the inconvenience caused and said it is working toward resuming services as quickly as possible.
The impact of the disruption spilled over onto other train lines as well, with commuters on Twitter and Facebook reporting more crowded trains during morning peak hour - even as far away as Sengkang MRT Station, according to Twitter user @dearshopaholic - while others complained of traffic jams on the roads where the bridging buses were plying. Taxi operators broadcast messages to drivers saying that "taxis may be needed near these stations. Members, please help".
Added @BanglesByVinod: "What a Thursday, no trains, bee lines for buses, cabs booked and hooked, shuttle services are at snails' pace ... "
"Are you serious?! Another MRT mess up?!" said @AlacrityL on Twitter.
Although "goodwill ambassadors" were posted and signs erected at affected stations to help commuters, some complained of poor communication. Said Rose Tan, 57: "I did not realise the train had broken down until I had tapped my ezlink card. And once in the train, the authorities only announced there was a breakdown at Outram Park, but they should have announced that commuters would be delayed in reaching our destination. It's important to give us a choice - do we want to transfer to a bus, or stay on the train?
"I can't even get onto the shuttle bus - the queue is so long.
"This is the first time I've experienced this, now I know the frustration others have faced."
The reliability of MRT services have been in the spotlight since a series of disruptions in December last year, including a seven-hour lapse on Dec 17, which culminated in SMRT CEO Saw Phaik Hwa stepping down.
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