LTA and Public Transport Operators Test Enhanced Management and Readiness Plans for Handling of Major MRT Incidents

News Releases 14 Oct 2015 emergency exercise

1.  This morning, the Land Transport Authority (LTA), SMRT and SBS Transit conducted a ground deployment exercise to test their enhanced incident management plans for large-scale train service disruptions.  The exercise simulated multiple power trips on the East-West Line (EWL) during the morning peak hours, which resulted in the suspension of train operations along the entire line.

2.  The emergency drill, codenamed “Exercise Greyhound”, is part of a series of regular exercises to ensure that SMRT and SBS Transit maintain a high level of operational readiness in managing rail incidents. This exercise also helps both operators take an integrated approach to handling emergencies, especially at interchange stations.

3.  The exercise was conducted while regular train services operated as normal and commuters were unaffected.

Validating enhanced contingency measures

4.  Aside from activating their enhanced incident management plans, the operators also tested additional measures to improve the capacity of alternative transport options and information dissemination. This included regular trunk services that ply the rail corridor and special shuttle bus services. These special services are activated in the event of multiple line-wide service disruptions, and will bring commuters from the major towns in the northern, western and eastern parts of Singapore to the key interchange stations and vice versa.

5.  LTA also trialled the newly installed beacon lights at Tiong Bahru station[1]. When activated, these lights signal to bus captains and commuters that free boarding of bus services has been activated.

6.  As the main “Exercise Greyhound” coordinator, LTA also used the exercise to review SMRT and SBS Transit’s operational preparedness of incident management in four areas:

a. Activation of free boarding on regular bus services;

b. Activation of Special Shuttle Bus Services from key MRT interchanges to the heartlands;

c. Activation of the operators’ staff as Crisis Support Team (by SMRT) or Goodwill Ambassadors (by SBS Transit) to manage the surge in commuters at all train stations and interchanges; and

d. Availability of leaflets at SMRT stations to guide commuters to alternative operational MRT lines and bus services.

7.  While the scenario was enacted at three EWL stations – Buona Vista, Outram Park and Tiong Bahru, both operators were also tested on their public communications efforts to inform the public of the service disruption through signages and regular updates at the stations. LTA also assessed the operators’ communications support plans at unaffected rail lines – Circle Line, Downtown Line and North East Line.

Working closely as a team

8.  Mr Chew Men Leong, LTA’s Chief Executive, said: “LTA conducts exercises like Greyhound with the operators to test everyone’s readiness and assess quickly where we see the need for more improvement. After all, when service is disrupted even for a short time, our job is to get information to commuters quickly and help to provide alternative transport while we work to resume service. Today’s exercise has been very productive in showing us what is working well and where we will continue to strengthen our incident management processes. For example, we have identified more ways to get information out faster at stations and this will be a main action item.”

9.  Mr Desmond Kuek, President and Group Chief Executive Officer, SMRT Corporation Ltd, said: “Such emergency preparedness exercises allow SMRT to hone our operational readiness in managing rail incidents. The whole-hearted support from all involved this morning underlines our commitment that commuter safety and comfort, as well as timely information dissemination remain our priorities during incidents.” 

10. Mr Gan Juay Kiat, Chief Executive Officer of SBS Transit, said: “Such exercises are very useful as they provide us with the opportunity to test out our contingency plans and make adjustments as needed. This will enable us to minimise the inconvenience and distress caused in the unfortunate event of a real incident.”

[1] Two beacon lights have been installed at each of the two bus stops outside Tiong Bahru MRT station.

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