SMRT board sorry for disruptions

SLIGHTLY more than a week after two major breakdowns on the North- South Line, SMRT's board of directors finally shouldered responsibility and yesterday apologised to commuters who were affected by the disruptions.

In a statement released by the SMRT board, chairman Koh Yong Guan said that the board would "spare no effort and resources" to ensure that SMRT regains the confidence of commuters and the public.

"We apologise to the travelling public for the disruptions and inconveniences in the last week," he said.

Last Friday, SMRT chief executive Saw Phaik Hwa apologised to commuters affected by the breakdowns.

Last Thursday evening's breakdown, which caused 11 stations - from Bishan to Marina Bay - on the North-South Line to be shut down, plunged some 127,000 commuters into chaos for five hours. It was attributed to a "power-rail problem".

The breakdown followed a service disruption on the Circle Line on Wednesday morning, which was due to a "communication- network problem". Some 1,400 commuters suffered delays.

The second breakdown on the North-South Line, which occurred last Saturday morning, affected about 94,000 commuters.

The board also announced that National Trades Union Congress' deputy secretary-general, Mr Ong Ye Kung, an independent director of SMRT, would head a team to investigate the reasons for the disruptions.

The team, which is separate from the Committee of Inquiry (COI) called for by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, would be convened by the board and will comprise external experts and members.

The internal investigation is aimed at finding out the root causes of the disruptions, determining the adequacy of SMRT's emergency responses and the required remedial actions.

"Where issues are identified that require action, the board will take that action. And we will share the results of our internal investigation with the COI," the statement said.

It added that the disruptions have shown the need for the transport operator to improve emergency response and management procedures.

More work can also be done in terms of communication with commuters and the public in incidents of this scale, said the board.

"We hear the public's concern in this regard," the statement said, adding that the board would move quickly to implement measures based on the learning points that have arisen from the disruptions.

Separately, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) yesterday announced that it would conduct its own investigation into last week's service disruptions.

It issued a directive to SMRT to provide records of operations.

These include all maintenance records, and operations and system logs.

"This is to understand the likely causes (of) and contributing factors to the disruptions, and the implementation of its contingency plans, and for improvements to be made," added LTA.

Its findings will also be made available to the COI.

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