The Bukit Panjang LRT has broken down after a train damaged a signal stop tape, which is used to indicate where the driverless trains should stop
Bukit Panjang LRT down after train damages signal stop tape SMRT staff inspect the train tracks at Bukit Panjang LRT Station, on Jan 12, 2018. ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

SINGAPORE - The Bukit Panjang LRT has broken down again.

Transport operator SMRT said on Twitter at around 2.30pm that there was no service on the line because of a track fault. It added that free regular and bridging bus services are available at the 14 affected stations.

At around 3.50pm, it put out an update, saying that a train had damaged a signal stop tape near Keat Hong station at 1.45pm. A signal stop tape is used to indicate to the driverless train precisely where it should stop.

SMRT said the damaged train has been withdrawn from service for further checks; and that its engineering team was conducting a systemwide safety check. This is to determine if other parts of the system had been damaged as well.

“Our engineering staff are now working to resume service,” the operator added. “Free bus and shuttle bus services are available.

“We are sorry for the inconvenience this has caused to BPLRT commuters.”

Mr Mason Teo, 38, a Bukit Panjang resident, was on his way home around 3.50pm when he was stopped by customer service staff at Bukit Panjang LRT station.

“I’m figuring out how to go home now, I’ve no choice but to take a bus,” the interior designer said. He added that he frequently gets caught in MRT and LRT breakdowns. “But I’ve never been in one that has affected the whole line before,” he said.

“My house is just five stations from here. So near yet so far,” he added.

The 18-year-old Bukit Panjang LRT has been saddled with reliability issues in recent years, partly as it has to contend with undulating terrain and sharp turns. It is Singapore’s third-oldest line after the North-South and East-West MRT lines.

Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan said last year that the system was built as an “after-thought” and due to “political pressure”. Mr Khaw also said the 7.8km line was designed in a “masochistic manner”, and likened the ride to a “roller coaster”.

The Land Transport Authority said in December that it would be awarding a contract in early 2018 for the replacement and renewal of other major components and systems of the Bukit Panjang LRT.

On Sept 9 last year, broken rail support brackets on the Bukit Panjang LRT resulted in train services on the entire line being unavailable for about five hours.