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Khaw Boon Wan apologises for MRT collision, says he is just as upset as commuters

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Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan has apologised to commuters for the MRT collision at Joo Koon station this morning in which 28 people suffered injuries.

Calling this morning’s collision “the first major incident involving the new signalling system,” while speaking to reporters after a joint press conference with SMRT and the Land Transport Authority (LTA), Khaw said he was as upset as commuters and added:

“It’s an awful day…Commuters were inconvenienced and some were even injured. So we are deeply sorry for that. Those who were injured and are in hospitals, the Second Minister (for Transport), Ng Chee Meng as well as Senior Minister of State for Transport, Dr Lam (Pin Min) visited all of them. They have been most understanding and we are deeply grateful.”

TRANSPORT MINISTER KHAW BOON WAN ON TRAIN DELAYS

"It's an awful day today": Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan apologises to commuters after the train collision which caused delays on the East-West and North-South lines.

Posted by Channel NewsAsia on Wednesday, 15 November 2017

When asked whether a Committee of Inquiry will be called, Khaw responded that this will only be determined after further investigation, adding that no Committee will be called if the facts surrounding the incident are clear.

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He also revealed that he advised SMRT and LTA to suspend train services on the East-West Line tomorrow, so that system provider Thales can conduct a comprehensive check:

“Thales is confident of the system and I advised the team, ‘lets play doubly safe’- safety is involved. That’s why I advised them to suspend the Tuas West Extension (operations) tomorrow. Then we have a whole day to do a thorough check before we resume the Tuas West extension.”

At the joint conference called to explain preliminary findings on the collision contact between two trains, SMRT and LTA revealed that the “inadvertent” disabling of a software protection feature caused one train to hit another stalled train at Joo Koon station.

LTA deputy chief executive of infrastructure and development Chua Chong Kheng that the first train departed Ulu Pandan with a software protection feature that had been “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.” 

Chua said there was no indication that the removal of the software protection feature was due to human action and added that a thorough investigation is underway to get to the bottom of the issue.

He explained:

“The new trackside signaling circuit is still a work-in-progress and as the train passed by, we observed this (software protection) feature got removed.”

The authorities also provided further details on the injuries sustained by commuters hurt by the collision. Chua said most of the injured commuters were treated for falls and bruises, while one suffered a face injury and a broken tooth.

Other commuters also suffered facial injuries when they crashed into the grab bars when the collision occurred.

SMRT’s Senior Vice President of Rail Operations on the North-South and East-West Lines (NSEWL), Alvin Kek revealed that care teams were deployed to help injured commuters and that SMRT has a compensation process in place for such events.

Chua further added:

“Obviously the situation is not satisfactory, we are concerned and will work closely with SMRT on this.
“There’s also a technical bit here and we must be clear about responsibilities. This incident involve technical aspects and we need to iron those out with Thales.
“But ensuring the safety of our commuters remains our priority.”

The ensuing service breakdown on the East-West Line following the collision is incidentally not the only train line breakdown today. The Circle Line and the North-South Line also experienced service disruptions today.

All three train lines are managed by SMRT.

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