LRT train hits technician
Victim's leg so badly injured it had to be amputated. -TNP
HE had gone onto the Light Rail Transit (LRT) tracks to carry out maintenance works when a train pulled in.
Mr Chia Teck Heng, in his late 40s, had no time to get out of harm's way and was hit by the oncoming train.
He suffered injuries to his head and legs, and is now warded at the National University Hospital's (NUH) intensive care unit (ICU).
One of his legs was so seriously injured that it had to be amputated.
The New Paper understands that Mr Chia, an SMRT technician, was doing some maintenance works at the Ten Mile Junction LRT station on Oct 17 (a Sunday), at about 8am, when he was hit.
The first train leaves the Ten Mile Junction LRT station at 9am daily.
First trains for the flanking stations - Bukit Panjang and Phoenix - leave between 5.18am and 5.37am on Sundays and public holidays.
He was believed to be alone on the tracks at that time.
SLRT, which operates the line, is owned by SMRT.
An SMRT spokesman confirmed the incident and said that the company is investigating.
She added: "Our thoughts go out to him and his family, and the company is providing all necessary support for his quick recovery."
When asked what are the standard operating procedures for staff who need to enter the tracks, the spokesman declined to comment, stating that investigations are being carried out.
SMRT would only say that they have very strict regulations for granting access to staff when they go onto the tracks to do any kind of works.
Mr Chia's family and friends were gathered outside the ICU when The New Paper visited last evening.
They declined to be interviewed.
Mr Chia's wife is a housewife, and he is the family's sole breadwinner, reported Lianhe Wanbao.
They have three schooling daughters aged between four and 16.
The eldest daughter said that her father has been working for SMRT for nine years.
The teen added that she is in the midst of preparing for her O-level examinations and her family does not want her to be distracted by what had happened.
She said that her father has regained consciousness.
Mr Chia's wife has been keeping her vigil by her husband's hospital bed for the past week.
The driverless LRT system in Bukit Panjang cost $285 million to build and has 14 stations.
There are emergency stop buttons on both the platforms and inside the train carriages.
It is not known if the buttons were activated at the time of the incident.
The Bukit Panjang LRT line has been plagued by hiccups since its opening in November 1999, despite maintenance being conducted on the tracks and trains every day.
A year after its opening, three people were injured after a train carrying 20 passengers crashed into a stationary one at Phoenix station, leading to a $10,000 fine from the Land Transport Authority.
In October 2002, a wheel fell off one of the trains, resulting in five days of disrupted service and another $10,000 fine for SLRT.
Then in May this year, a carriage door remained open for 30 seconds as the train left Bukit Panjang station for Keat Hong station.
This was described by a train operator as an isolated incident.
That same month, a 42-year-old man fell onto the tracks at the Keat Hong LRT station when he suddenly felt faint and lost his balance.
The quick-witted man then pressed his body against the wall underneath the platform, where there was a narrow gap of a few centimetres.
He suffered cuts on his nape and injuries to his right hand and leg.
About 860 passengers were affected by the disruption as the train services were disrupted for 28 minutes.
Two months ago, 10 commuters were trapped in a carriage for 35 minutes as heavy rain poured outside.
The train was on its way from Fajar to Bangkit station when it suddenly stopped.
SMRT said then that the disruption was due to a track fault and not related to the weather.
This article was first published in The New Paper.
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