SBST to be Fined $400,000 for Train Service Disruption Along the North East Line in March 2012

News Releases 04 Sep 2012 North East Line (NEL) train service disruptions

Penalty collected will go towards the Public Transport Fund to help needy families with transport fares

The Land Transport Authority (LTA) intends to impose financial penalties amounting to $400,000 on SBS Transit (SBST) for the train service disruption along the North East Line (NEL) on 15 March 2012.

2     On 15 March 2012, train services on the NEL were disrupted on both bounds between Dhoby Ghaut and HarbourFront stations for about 10 hours. More than 117,000 passengers were affected by the disruption.

3     LTA's investigations found that the service disruption was caused by the snapping of a pair of stainless steel wires, which formed part of the counterweight systems holding in place overhead power lines that provide electricity to the trains. The primary cause for the broken wires was corrosion. Laboratory tests revealed that the majority of wire strands of the snapped wires had broken due to Stress Corrosion Cracking. This is a gradual process of propagation of cracks in the wire strands due to contact with tunnel seepage water.

4     LTA's findings further revealed that SBST had not carried out immediate diversion/rectification works on tunnel leaks at the incident site, and was not sufficiently diligent in detecting and replacing the corroded wires. The incident resulted in the breach of the Operating Performance Standard (OPS) and the Code of Practice for the Maintenance of Structures in the Rapid Transit System.

5     Under Section 19 of the Rapid Transit Systems (RTS) Act, a licensed public transport operator can be fined up to $1 million per incident, if the operator fails to comply with the Operating Performance Standards and other regulatory requirements. In assessing the penalty amount of $400,000, LTA considered the facts of the case, severity of the incident and any relevant mitigating factors that may apply.

Immediate Corrective Measures Carried Out

6     Following the incident, SBST immediately replaced the damaged wires with new stainless steel wires, checked through the counter-weight wires of the entire NEL to ensure they were not damaged, tightened its maintenance regime and intensified its checks on the wires. As a precautionary measure, SBST has also replaced wires where there were previous reports of tunnel water seepages.

Donation of Fine to the Public Transport Fund

7     The $400,000 will be donated to the Public Transport Fund to help needy families with transport fares.

NEL Disruption on 17 August 2012 Under Investigation

8     LTA is also investigating the incident on 17 August 2012 when a power supply fault and a subsequent signalling fault on the NEL led to a delay in train services.

9     Mr Chew Hock Yong, Chief Executive, LTA said: "Many commuters had expressed frustration that SBST had not sufficiently provided timely and accurate information on the travel delay. SBST should have more accurately reflected the delays expected and the time needed for a journey, so that commuters could choose to change their travel plans accordingly and use other modes of transport. There is room for improvement in SBST's incident and public communications management, and LTA will work with them to improve this."

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