Current Affairs

SMRT train collision due to ‘inadvertent’ removal of software protection feature


SINGAPORE: The “inadvertent” disabling of a software protection feature has been identified by the authorities as the reason for an SMRT train hitting another, stalled train at Joo Koon station on Wednesday morning (Nov 15).

Twenty-eight people were injured after a train “moved forward unexpectedly” and “came into contact” with another stationary one in front of it, according to earlier statements from the Land Transport Authority (LTA) and SMRT. 

At a joint press conference held later Wednesday, LTA deputy chief executive of infrastructure and development Chua Chong Kheng said preliminary findings indicated that the first train – in front – departed Ulu Pandan with a software protection feature which was “inadvertently removed” when it passed a faulty signaling circuit. 

“This train then arrived at Joo Koon station without the feature,” said Mr Chua. “This resulted in it giving off a train profile on the new signaling system of a three-car train instead of a six-car train.” 

“As a result, the second train (behind) detected the first train as a three-car train and misjudged the distance between the two, causing a collision.” 

Mr Chua said that as a precaution, operations from Joo Koon to Tuas Link will be suspended for the entire day on Nov 16 while assurance checks are conducted with signaling contractor Thales. 

Bus bridging will be deployed for the affected stretch for the duration of the suspension.

One of the trains involved in the incident was pulled away in the direction of Tuas Link MRT station at about 3.20pm. The second train was moved out about 4.05pm.

Of the 28 injured, 23 passengers and two SMRT staff sustained “light to moderate injuries”, and were taken from the scene of the incident to Ng Teng Fong Hospital and National University Hospital (NUH) in the morning.

Ng Teng Fong General Hospital received three additional walk-in patients later in the afternoon.

Three patients remain warded for observation – two at Ng Teng Fong General Hospital and one at National University Hospital. In all, 22 patients received treatment and were discharged, one declined treatment and returned home, two are still being treated.

The last time an MRT train collision happened in Singapore was more than two decades ago. That incident – a front-to-back collision between two trains at Clementi station on Aug 5, 1993 – resulted in 156 injured commuters.

An independent inquiry panel found that the accident was caused by a 50L oil spill from a maintenance locomotive which had been carrying out maintenance work at about 5am on the day of the accident.

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