A power fault shut down train service on parts of the North-South and East-West MRT Lines at around 7:00pm on 14 October 2020.
Train services restored on NSL, EWL and Circle lines after disruption due to power fault Preliminary investigations indicate that a faulty power cable had caused the breakdown. PHOTO: ST FILE

A power fault shut down train service on parts of the North-South and East-West MRT Lines at around 7:00pm on 14 October 2020, severely disrupting the evening rush-hour commute for many commuters.

At 7.30pm, the fault disrupted service along a 16-station stretch of the Circle Line. Preliminary investigations indicate that a faulty power cable had caused the breakdown, which is one of the most serious power-related incidents to hit the MRT network in recent years.

The Land Transport Authority (LTA) said in a statement that operator SMRT started to detrain passengers  who were stuck on trains on the North-South and East-West lines at 7.30pm, and on the Circle Line at 8pm. However, SMRT had to stop this process when it began raining heavily.

Free bus bridging services were activated at all affected stations, and bus operators increased the frequency of regular services serving these areas, the LTA added. SMRT said at 8:40pm that service on the Circle Line was being progressively restored and commuters were told to add 25 minutes to their travel time.

The operator had said earlier that there was no train service between Serangoon and HarbourFront on the Circle Line, between Marsiling and Jurong East stations on the North-South Line, as well as between Dover and Tuas Link stations on the East-West Line.

Service resumed at all stations along the North-South and East-West Lines at 10:35pm, said the LTA. Announcements on the disruptions were made at all MRT stations to inform commuters, said LTA, as well as on its websites and the Twitter accounts of LTA and SMRT.

"LTA is working with SMRT on rectification works and we will carry out a full investigation into the causes," the authority added. Commuters reported blackouts at Boon Lay station. They also said that at Choa Chu Kang station, passengers were detrained and walked on the train tracks that run above the street.

When The Straits Times arrived at Jurong East MRT station, it was dark and police officers were preventing people from going through the gantries. Station staff later closed the gates to the MRT station to prevent people from entering. The escalators were not working and commuters had been given pamphlets on free bus services.

In a Facebook post, Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung said the remaining passengers on board the last North-South Line train have disembarked at the Bukit Batok station. Crowds at bus bridging bus stops are slowly thinning out, he said, adding that he will give further updates later.

One commuter, a 45-year old woman who wanted to be known only as Madam Tan, was carrying her dinner and staring intently at the bus service pamphlet. The teacher said she had just arrived at the station and was on her way home to Choa Chu Kang.

"I got here and was stunned. So many people were leaving and the lights were off, so I immediately knew something was wrong," she said. "But they should have put more signs up."

Another commuter, Mr. Omar Abdul Ghani, 27, was on his way home from work as part of a ship crew at Jurong Island when he arrived at Jurong East station. "I just got here and was a bit annoyed because now I have to take a Grab home to Marsiling."

Security officer Jazimi Suhood, 44, was sitting and waiting by the gantry at Jurong East Station after arriving at about 8:15pm. "At first I was wondering what happened. Then I checked Twitter and people were saying there was a power blackout. I’m just happy I wasn't on the train when it happened," he said.