SMRT captain sent to CGH after lightning strikes MRT train on East-West Line

A train captain was sent to Changi General Hospital (CGH) after lightning reportedly struck an MRT train on the East-West Line after 4pm today (Nov 20).

In response to Stomp media queries, a Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) spokesman said SCDF was alerted at 4.20pm, and one ambulance was dispatched to Tanah Merah MRT Station.

A man was conveyed to CGH "in a conscious and alert state", said the spokesperson.

The Straits Times reported on the lightning strike at 5.30pm today and said that the incident resulted in journey times between Tanah Merah and Paya Lebar stations to be delayed for at least 10 minutes.

The newspaper understands that the affected train has been withdrawn from service.

Here is SMRT's statement in full:

"A westbound train heading towards the city stalled as it was approaching Bedok MRT station. Passengers were detrained at Bedok station, and the train was withdrawn from service for investigation. After the incident, the Train Captain, who said he was unwell, is receiving medical attention.

"In response to media queries, we are currently investigating this incident as a possible lightning strike.

"We would like to share that each train is protected by a "Faraday Cage". This is an enclosure formed by conductive material that blocks electric fields and electric currents such as lightning strikes. The cage conducts current around the outside of the enclosed space with none passing through the interior. If lightning strikes, the electric current will travel through the outside shell of the train, not through the cabin, and pass through the wheels to the track. The train is grounded to the track."

In a previous incident on May 11, 2016, a train on the North-South Line was crippled by lightning, disrupting southbound services between Yishun and Yio Chu Kang stations.

Trains on surface lines are occasionally struck by lightning but SMRT has said that occupants are protected and unlikely to be injured in such an event.

Photo: The Straits Times Graphics

A video that went viral in August earlier this year shows what happens when lightning strikes a train on Tokyo's Odakyu Electric Railway. Thankfully, no one was hurt in the incident.