Photo of arranged photoshoot of Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan on crowded train on Oct 19 by ASS

A train fault at Outram Park station interchange caused serious train delays on all stations on the North-East Line (NEL) this peak hour morning today (Nov 14). According to a twitter update from SBS Transit, the delay started at 9.33am and the public transport operator said to expect an “additional 15 minutes travel time along NEL”.

However the “15 minutes” expectation turns out to be false. A passenger interviewed by the state media said that he took 35 minutes for his ride to pass 3 stations, from Buangkok to Serangoon interchange. Trains were reportedly stopping at every station for five to fifteen minutes.

Train services resumed only an hour later at 10.36am. Although alternative train-replacement bus services were provided, every passenger was late for their appointment.

This incident has become an embarrassing episode for Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan, who last Friday claimed that Singapore train reliability will exceed Hongkong standards in less than 2 years, 2018, and reach Taiwan standards by 2020.

SBS Transit did not explain the cause behind the breakdown. The NEL breakdown is the second high profile train breakdown in recent weeks, after the Circle Line faced severe train delays last week over a “mysterious” signal interference. The interference signal was eventually resolved by the Defence’s ministry because the Land Transport Authority (LTA) and the train company SMRT does not have the rail engineering capabilities to check their trains. The fault turned out to be from a faulty signal transceiver on a single train carriage.