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28 injured in Singapore metro train collision

Densely populated Singapore’s metro system has been hit by repeated delays and breakdowns in recent years, generating public anger

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 15 November, 2017, 12:09pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 16 November, 2017, 2:25am

A Singapore mass transit train bumped into another at a station on Wednesday injuring 28 people, authorities said, the latest mishap on the transit system in a city state that has long prided itself on its efficient public services.

The accident, only the second rail collision in three decades, occurred near Joo Koon station in the western part of the city state on Wednesday morning.

Transit operator SMRT said 26 passengers and two staff suffered light to moderate injuries and had been taken to hospital.

“It’s an awful day,” Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan said.

“Commuters were inconvenienced, and some even injured. We are deeply sorry for that,” Khaw was quoted by The Straits Times newspaper as telling a news conference.

The incident is the latest blemish in a city known for its efficiency, tree-lined motorways and slick infrastructure.

Singapore’s mass transit system has been strained as the ­population expanded, leading to multiple breakdowns and delays especially in the past six years, symptomatic of a learning curve the city faces as it upgrades infrastructure rapidly to cope with more people.

SMRT said a faulty westbound train had stalled at Joo Koon station on the system’s East-West line at 08:18am.

A second train stopped behind the faulty train at the station at 08:19am but moved forward unexpectedly a minute later, coming into contact with the stationary train.

SMRT and the transport authority said they are investigating the incident.

Singapore’s first train collision occurred August 5, 1993, when an eastbound train stopped longer than scheduled at a station due to a technical fault and was then hit by another train, according to the National Library Board’s resources.

The train, which comprised six carriages, had a full capacity of 1,800 passengers, 156 of whom were injured during the peak-hour collision.

SMRT operates the two oldest train lines in Singapore, North-South and East-West, as well as the newer Circle line.

SBS Transit Ltd. runs the North East line and the newest Downtown line.

The companies have blamed signalling faults for most of the train disruptions and delays in recent years.

The worst glitches occurred in December 2011, delaying more than 200,000 people in the last weekend before the Christmas holiday, and led to the resignation of SMRT’s chief executive officer at the time. Subsequently, Lui Tuck Yew, the former transport minister who oversaw an expansion of the public-transport network, left politics.

Bloomberg, Agence France-Presse, Reuters