Photo of injured SMRT staff from Straits Times

In a joint press conference by SMRT and LTA yesterday (Nov 21), SMRT denied responsibility of the train collision accident and claimed there is “no human error”. SMRT’s Vice President Alvin Kek explained the cause of the collision and concluded to state media reporters:

“The train was launched at 5.38am from Ulu Pandan Depot to serve commuters towards Pasir Ris and then to turn back to Tuas Link. Investigation findings indicated that an abnormal condition on a train-borne CBTC signalling equipment” disabled a feature designed to apply a protective bubble around the affected train to ensure safe distances between trains. When this happens, the CBTC system should immediately apply a second protective bubble to replace the first one. However, this second bubble was unexpectedly disabled when the train passed by a trackside device at Clementi which had ‘yet to be modified for compatibility” with the new CBTC system. When the train arrived at Pioneer MRT station where it transitioned to the new CBTC system on the TWE, the train captain correctly detected the abnormal condition and reported it to the Operations Control Centre. The train was directed to Joo Koon MRT station for passengers to alight. When it stopped at the station, platform screen doors were manually opened and a “closed track” protection was automatically activated to prevent other trains from entering or leaving the platform. When this protection was lifted to allow the first train to leave the station, the second train “started to move forward automatically” as it could not sense any protective bubbles around the first train. There was no human error in this case.”

SMRT did not explain the loophole in their testing and commissioning, and why is the error “unexpected”.

With reduced operating hours, the government’s lopsided measurement of rail reliability will also statistically improve. Currently, the railway fares are not linked to rail reliability as the dictatorship may lose money from the current fare calculation formula that has been in use for more than a decade. A new fare calculation formula will be created by the government to ensure profits for SMRT.