The Land Transport Authority (LTA) has confirmed that the new train signalling introduced in May 2017 is not in full working condition and it has caused a train collision injuring 28 today (Nov 16):
“Preliminary findings indicated that the first train – in front – departed Ulu Pandan with a software protection feature which was inadvertently removed when it passed a faulty signaling circuit. This train then arrived at Joo Koon station without the feature. This resulted in it giving off a train profile on the new signaling system of a three-car train instead of a six-car train. As a result, the second train (behind) detected the first train as a three-car train and misjudged the distance between the two, causing a collision.”
Explaining further, the LTA deputy chief executive said the safety feature was disabled due to a computer glitch and that the train driver is now under investigation:
“There was no indication that the removal of the software protection feature was due to human action. The new trackside signaling circuit is still a work-in-progress and as the train passed by, we observed this (software protection) feature got removed. When the first train stalled at the station – due to an anomaly in the train signalling system – station staff boarded the train to run checks, and safety protocol at the station closed down the track to “physically protect” another train from coming in. When the second train arrived, it observed this stopping point by halting 10.7m behind the first – a safe stopping distance… The driver can override the system, and apply the manual brake, but he didn’t. It is now subject to the investigation.”
The LTA spokesperson also announced at the press conference that stations from Joo Koon to Tuas Link will be shut down today (Nov 16) while the signalling contractor Thales conduct tests. Trains travelling on all North-South and East-West Lines will see delayed services with slower frequency:
“SMRT would also increase the timed separation of trains arriving at NSEWL stations – up to between 2.5 and three minutes from the present two – until they were satisfied with findings from the ongoing investigation.”
The untested signalling software is however nothing new as States Times Review reported back in May 2017 succinctly pointing out that Singapore commuters are being used as guinea pigs for SMRT to do live testing for the new signalling software.